There are often questions posed regarding the connection between the payment of child support and the relationship between a parent and his or her children. Such as,
- Can I reduce my child support if the kids are in my care half of the time?
- If my spouse refuses me parenting time, can I refuse to pay child support?
- If my spouse refuses to pay child support, can I refuse their parenting time?
- If I don’t have a relationship with my children, do I still have to pay support?
Answering these questions will depend on the circumstances of your family. But in short, the general response to each is (1) Maybe, (2) No, (3) No, and (4) Very Likely.
Shared parenting is when children are dividing time between their parents approximately equally – that is, between 40% to 60% with each parent. This often results in increased costs to both households.
If children are sharing time between parents, there is the ability to determine the amount of child support payable by applying the analysis developed by the Supreme Court of Canada in Contino v. Leonelli-Contino (2005 SCC 63).
If you already have an existing order or agreement for support, you should speak with a lawyer about reviewing your support arrangements to determine whether a change should be proposed.
If you have just separated, the financial arrangements will be determined once a parenting schedule is agreed upon based on the best interests of the children. A parenting scheduled will not be ordered by the Court for the sole reason of reducing the payor parent’s child support obligation. Parenting issues are determined first, and support decisions follow.
Refusal of Support or Refusal of Parenting Time
The right of a parent to see their children exists independently of the right of a child to financial support from their parent. Essentially, if a parent stops paying child support, they still have a right to see their children, and if a parent refuses parenting time, the other parent still has to pay child support.
If you already have a Court Order or Separation Agreement governing the terms of your separation, you should refer to the Order or Agreement for any available remedies to address an issue with the payment of support or the parenting schedule.
If you don’t already have a Court Order or Separation Agreement, you should consult with a lawyer to determine your rights and obligations as it pertains to your children, and work towards having a Court Order or Separation Agreement put in place.
If you don’t have a relationship with your children, your children are still entitled to your financial support. There are some very narrow exceptions to this rule depending on the child’s age, the reason for the estrangement and how long it has persisted. However, overall this is a very difficult claim to advance, so it would best to speak with a lawyer about whether it is worthwhile to pursue.
Author: Katherine Robinson
At Mills & Mills LLP, our family lawyers are available if you want to discuss your specific situation in more detail.