Are Child Support Payments Fixed Once Established by the Court?

One common misconception divorcing parents have is in regards to child support payments ordered by the court. Many divorcing couples are under the impression once the child support payments are established by the court, they are fixed until such time the child reaches the age of majority or receive their first post-secondary degree.


This is not the case, and child support payments can be adjusted, modified, and changed at any point, after the court determines and establishes the initial support payments. One common situation where a change in support payments would be needed, is in cases where the payor’s income changes. If the payor has been with their current employer for several years, chances are they are going to get a pay raise or promotion with a higher salary. On the other hand, if the payor’s employer is downsizing or goes out of business, they may not be able to find a job earning what they were at their previous employer.


Another common situation is where the recipient parent was a homemaker prior to the divorce. After the divorce, they decide they want to return to school to complete job retraining courses or earn a degree. Once they complete their education and reenter the job market, they will be earning income and would be responsible for contributing more towards the children’s expenses, which was more equally proportionate to the payor’s earnings.


In cases where the recipient parent was working prior to the divorce, they could also receive a pay raise or get a promotion with a higher salary, just like the payor. Again, the change in income between the time the child support payment order was put in place and now, would warrant a review by the courts to determine if there should be a change in the payor’s amount.


A Change in Child Custody/Access Can Affect Support Payments


In situations where there is a change in child custody/access, which results in the change in how much time each parent spends with their children, changes in support payments may be warranted. For instance, initially, the custodial parent had the children the majority of the time and the other parent (payor) only had the children on the weekends. However, now the payor has the children throughout their children’s entire summer school break. Since they now care for the children more than they did before, they have the right to ask for a modification to support payments.


Am I Required to Report Changes to the Court?


Most of the time, it is the responsibility of each parent to report changes in income and custody/access to the court. It can be beneficial to request a hearing with the court, with assistance from a Toronto Child Support lawyer, if there are changes in income or child custody/access. Granted, these changes could benefit the custodial parent in some cases and the noncustodial parent in others.


There are times when one parent chooses not to inform the court of changes in income and that could have serious consequences, should the other parent discover their ex-spouse is now earning more money. Either parent has the right to request a review of child support payments, in the event they discover the other parent is earning more income, even if you decided not to report it yourself.


It is always in your best interests to report changes when they occur, regardless of whether they will benefit you or the other parent. The important thing to remember, is both parents are equally responsible for the financial support of their minor children.


It is highly recommended to obtain assistance from an experienced Toronto family law firm, like Kain & Ball Family Law Lawyers Toronto, since child support review proceedings are sometimes as emotional and stressful as the initial divorce proceedings. Contact our law firm today at 647-499-4888 for further questions about child support, child custody and child visitation modifications, or assistance in requesting a review to modify existing orders.

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