Child support payments are based on where I 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 also does not matter why the child is living where the child is living; child support goes to the parent with whom a child is living primarily. (If the child lives approximately equally with both parents, read this page for how child support works). However when a child’s situation changes, the Family Responsibility Office does not have the authority to stop collecting child support.
As with most things in Family Law, there is an easy way and a hard way to do things. If both parents agree that the child has changed homes, or is no 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 ask it to stop collecting child support. The FRO will verify the information with each parent then stop collecting. Alternatively, the parent who was receiving support can send in this form to stop the FRO from collecting support.
When a child switches homes, child support should not just stop. The parent who was receiving child support should start paying it. That can make some parents reluctant to acknowledge that a child has moved. However, not paying child support, and not agreeing that you should stop receiving child support, is a guaranteed way to get into trouble in family court.
When one parent will not acknowledge that a child’s circumstances have changed, and the way the FRO is enforcing support must also change, then it is necessary to go to Family Court. 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 tell the FRO what to do. If the parties do not agree on the change, only a judge can change how much support the FRO is collecting and from whom.
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 certain ways; 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. Hopefully, when a parent serves a “Motion to Change Support” that will be enough for the other parent to acknowledge the child has moved and agreed to a change in support. A party who fails to acknowledge the obvious and forcing a parent through the court process to the end can expect to pay most, or all, of the other party’s legal fees. At the very least, the responding parent should start negotiating because an angry judge may make an order that is worse than the possible settlements.
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.
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