Child support payments are based on where the child actually lives, not where a Court Order or Separation Agreement says that they are living, or should be living. Since child support is the right of the child, it is also irrelevant as to why the child is residing in one place as opposed to another; child support goes to the parent with whom a child is primarily living with. However when a child's situation changes, the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) does not have the authority to stop collecting child support.
As with many instances within family law, there are various ways in which one can resolve a situation.
If both parents agree that the child has changed homes, is not longer entitled to child support (note: child support does not always end when a child turns 18), or is living on his or her own, then they can write to the FRO and request a cease on further child support payments. Subsequently, the FRO will verify the information with each parent before honouring the request. Alternatively, the receiving parent can obtain a withdrawal form as a means of notifying the FRO.
When a child changes residence, child support payments should not be terminated. The parent whom the child was living with initially, is now responsible for making child support payments. Because of this, some parents are reluctant to acknowledge that a child has moved. However, not paying child support, and not agreeing that you should stop receiving child support, is highly frowned upon in family court.
Cases whereby one parent refuses to adhere to the guidelines, often results in having to sit in front of a judge. Only a judge can look at the circumstances and determine which parent should be paying support and how much (it is also possible to arbitrate those issues if both parents agree) The judge will inform the FRO on how to proceed.
Many people may avoid seeking the appropriate change to child support because of the complexities of the family court's procedures. The Ontario Government's Child Support Online Recalculation Service only changes support when a support payer's income changes in a particular way; it cannot change support because a child's circumstances changed.
Fortunately, there is a simplified court procedure for changing an existing support order. That procedure is based on the premise that there is no dispute about the facts of the case. Where a child has clearly changed homes, that fact should be clear to the Court. Ideally, when a parent serves a "Motion to Change Support", that will be enough for the other parent to acknowledge the child has moved and agree to a change in support. A party who fails to acknowledge the obvious and is ultimately forcing a parent through the court process, can expect to pay the majority, or all, of the other party's legal fees.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.