Help, not sure where to start

i want to change my child support amount and the visitations. how do i go about doing that and what forms do i need. ?

Asked about 1 year ago in Hamilton, Ontario
Categories: Family Law

Answer Now

John  P. Schuman, C.S.

Answer by John P. Schuman, C.S.

VerifiedOntario lawyer

There are three ways to change child support:

  1. If you an the other parent agree on the change - either because your income has changed or because the children's living arrangements have changed, you can draft up an "amending agreement" to your separation agreement or file a motion to change support on consent at the court, if you have a court order.  It can be dangerous to reduce your child support,even if your ex agrees, without a formal agreement or court order because the other parent can go back and enforce the last formal agreement or court order and you could end up owing a lot of money. 
  2. You can use Ontario's Online Child Support Calculation Service to adjust support if the other parent does not object, and you do not fall into one of one of the exclusions.  You cannot use the service if you have shared custody, do not earn most of your income from a salary, or earn more than $150,000.00 per year, or if a child is 17.5 years old or older and is still entitled to support. In these situations, child support may be more than a simple calculation. But, if your child support will be a simple calculation, for an $80 fee, the Ministry of Finance will get both parents' tax returns and do the support adjustment for you. 
  3. If neither of the above options work for you, then you will have to bring a Motion to Change Support in Family Court.  The procedure to change support is usually simpler than an initial divorce of Family Court Application.  It may involve 2 appearances or less. Either parent can also use this process to change the support paid under an separation agreement if the other parent does not agree.  To learn more about how to do this, listen to this podcast and watch this video.
If you are not sure whether you should ask to change child support, listen to this podcast or watch this video on how to calculate your child support obligation.  Or you can speak to a family lawyer about your situation and figure out which option works best for you and whether you can save on legal fees by using unbundled services

Changing "visitation" or the "parenting schedule" may not be as straightforward.  Obviously, if you and the other parent can agree on a change to suite the children, that is what is best for the children.   If you do not agree, then you should consider using a parenting mediator, or one of the other lower-conflict ways of resolving parenting issues. Finding non-confrontational ways to resolve parenting issues, including the parenting schedule, is much better for the kids.  But, if the other parent is being unreasonable, or not acting in the children's best interests, then you may have to go to Family Court.  If the children might be harmed, of if you are not seeing them at all, you may be able to get an Emergency Custody Order. Otherwise, you would use the same "Motion to Change" procedure that applies for support.  

In making any decision about children, judges only do what is in the child's best interest and have factors to consider in making that determination.  Since those factors are what a judge will use, you should consider them too in deciding what kind of visitation or what kind of parenting plan to seek.  There are many different types of parenting arrangements after separation and what works best depends on the child.  If you are not sure, or have concerns, then it is important to talk about your specific situation with a family law lawyer.  That will ensure you are doing the best thing for your children.

You can get a lot more information about Ontario Family Law issues, including a further explanation of child support, family court, child custody and parenting legal issues by downloading this $9.99 e-book for KindleKobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac or ordering the paperback version.  But, to keep out of trouble, it is always best to speak with a good family law lawyer. 

Posted about 1 year ago

John Schuman is a Certified Specialist in Family Law.  He is the partner managing the Family Law Group at Devry Smith Frank LLP, a full service law firm located near Eglinton and the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto. Learn more about John! Call him at 416-446-5080 or 416-446-5847 or email Listen to the Ontario Family Law Podcast!

Please note that this is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice to you. Legal advice pertaining to your particular situation can only be provided by a lawyer who has met with you to obtain all pertinent background information necessary to give you a formal legal opinion. For formal legal advice, hire a lawyer (many give a free first consultation). Contact John P. Schuman, C.S., or search the Lawyer Directory.

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