The law treats changes to child support and spousal support quite differently. But, either one can be changed in the right circumstances. That can definitely fix an unfair agreement.
Child support is supposed to be reviewed, and changed, every year based on the situation of the parents and the children. Section 14 of the Child Support Guidelines states that any change in circumstances that would change the amount of child support by any amount justifies a court making an order to change the amount of support. Sections 25 and 25.1 of the Child Support Guidelines require support payers to provide income information every year. The combined effect of those provisions is that Child Support can be changed every year. On top of that, section 14 of the Child Support Guidelines also provides that changes in the circumstances of the children also justify a change in child support – that could include just about any situation where the child support agreement appears unfair to the children. In fact, family court judges will want to change a child support agreement if it appears to be unfair to the children.
Spousal support is a little different. Generally, courts like to hold separated or divorced spouses to their agreements – otherwise the courts would be full of ex-spouses wanting to fight out the same issues over and over again. However, there is room for the court to intervene to fix an unfair agreement.
Section 56(4) of the Ontario Family Law Act says that a Family Court can set aside the agreement if either side does not understand it (courts assume that each side needs independent legal advice to understand a separation agreement), if each side did not disclose significant assets or liabilities (which can include a proper valuation of the business), or if there are other problems under the law of contract (which may include duress, unequal bargaining power or other problems in the negotiations). If any of those situations sound like they might apply to you, you should consult with a family lawyer right away.
To learn more about the requirements to have an enforceable separation agreement, and the reasons why you can have a separation agreement thrown out, read this page.
Under the terms of your agreement, you may also be able to ask a court to change the spousal support terms. Some agreements specify when, or under what circumstances, a party can change the support terms. When an agreement says you can change support, you can go ahead and seek a change in support. If the agreement does not say when you can change spousal support, then you can change the support under an agreement if you have had a significant or large change in circumstances. To find out how to do that, watch this video on changing a spousal or child support order or agreement.
There is also a lot more on spousal support, how to get it, and how to change it, in this easy-to-understand best-selling book on Ontario Family Law (that is very highly reviewed.)
But, as noted above, the best way to ensure you are treated fairly, and you protect your rights, is to speak to a good family lawyer who can make sure that your ex, or a family court judge, sees things your way. Make an appointment immediately with Certified Specialist in Family Law, Toronto Divorce Lawyer, John Schuman, by calling 416-446-4036, emailing him or using the contact form below. You can also use the contact form to comment on this page.
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You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a comprehensive explanation of parenting cases (parenting time and decision making), child support, spousal support, property division, and most other common family law issues by downloading this $9.99 Kindle eBook, Kobo eBook, or iBook for your iPad or iPhone or ordering it from Amazon as a paperback. But to understand how the law works precisely in your situation, it is always best to speak to a good Family Law Lawyer.
To comment on this article, or to contact John Schuman, please use the form below.