Child support in Family Law

A family lawyer can assist you in determining the correct child support amount for your situation.

Do Parents Pay Child Support in Shared Custody?

Shared custody is any situation where each parent has the child for at least 40% of the time. In a shared custody arrangement, the usual presumptive Child Support Table amount will not automatically apply. (In other custody arrangements, the parent who has the child less than 40% of the time is required to pay child support according to the Federal Child Support Guidelines.)

Shared custody is addressed by s. 9 of the Guidelines. Where s.9 applies there is no presumption in favour of a payor paying at least the table amount under the guidelines.  Likewise, there is no presumption of a reduction of that amount. In other words, in shared custody situations child support amounts are highly discretionary and fact-driven.

How much Child Support will I Pay in Shared Custody?

Section 9(c) of the Federal Child Support Guidelines provides that the court should consider the “conditions, means, needs and other circumstances” of the parents and the children. The general goal of the s.9 is to ensure that a child’s standard of living is consistent between the households. The child’s “new normal” should be as close as possible to the child’s circumstances before the separation.

Changing Child Support in Shared Custody

As a divorce lawyer, I am frequently consulted by clients who have a shared parenting arrangement where one party is seeking to change child support on the basis that the proportion of custody has changed to 60%-40% (or more) and he or she believes they are automatically entitled to a “set-off.” (Child support set-off means that one parent’s child support obligation is reduced to account for the other parent’s payment.) In fact, in Contino v. Leonelli-Contino (2005 SCC 63) the Supreme Court of Canada held that a court always has “the discretion to modify the set-off amount where, considering the financial realists of the parents, it would lead to a significant variation in the standard of living experience by the children as they move from one household to another.” In other words, set-off of child support in shared custody is not automatic.

Child Support in Shared Custody – What are the Factors?

When the court is deciding a child support amount in a shared custody situation, a determination of the parents’ income is the starting point. Also considered are: each parent’s budget for the child, the net worth of each parent, and the ratio of their respective incomes. The court will also scrutinize the child’s standard of living since the separation and any variation in the standard of living as the child moves between households. Courts are usually aiming for a result that provides a comparable standard of living for the child in each of her homes, but note that comparable isn’t the same as “equal.”

Child support is intended to approximate the economic reality that was or would have been in place had the parents stayed together. After separation, the two parents represent two distinct economic entities. The sharing of money that occurs via child support is intended to reallocate those resources to the child in a way that approximates an intact family unit.

Shared Custody – who is the Primary Parent?

Courts have distinguished those families where parents are truly equal parents and fully sharing the duties and responsibilities of parenting and those situations where, despite the 60/40 split, one parent is primarily responsible for parenting the child.

Child Support Guidelines

The Guidelines are intended to achieve fairness. Accordingly, judges are vested with discretion that enables them to award child support with a view to the particular circumstances of each family. One such circumstance may be that a payor parent has re-partnered.

Child Support when the Payor has a New Partner

Where a child support payor has a new partner, it is likely that the payor is benefitting from the income of the new partner. Living expenses are typically shared and incomes may be pooled. This is the kind of factor that will be considered with respect to achieving the overall goal of fairness.

Child Support Scenarios

The best result in a child support scenario is a fair result. To find out what your scenario might look like, contact Coyne Law to arrange a consultation with a London child support lawyer. Reach out. I can help.


This Web site provides general information on family law related matters and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you would like to retain COYNE LAW to give you legal advice, please contact London/ST. Thomas Family Lawyer Rebecca Coyne, I would be pleased to discuss how I might be able to assist you.

Leave a Reply