Important information for payors and recipients of child support: Beginning November 22, 2017, the new Federal Child Support Tables come into effect. This may affect the amount of child support that you are entitled to receive, or required to pay.
The updated Tables will not automatically apply to a child support order or family law agreement made before November 22, 2017. However, if the updated child support amount is different from the amount in your current order or agreement, it could be considered a “change in circumstances” that might justify changing the child support currently being paid.
The Federal Child Support Guidelines Tables set out the basic monthly amount of child support under the Federal Child Support Guidelines. In almost all cases, judges are required to follow the Federal Child Support Guideline Table to determine the amount of child support payable in a family law case.
The last time the Federal Child Support Guideline Tables were updated was in 2011.
There are exceptions for when a court has discretion not to follow the Federal Child Support Guidelines Table. These exceptions include:
Where the parents share parenting of their children, or
In situations of “undue hardship.”
Where parents share parenting of their children, (defined as a parent having “parenting time” or a “right of access” or “physical custody” of a child for no less than 40 per cent of the time over the course of a year), judges apply a 3-part analysis, set out in section 9 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines, to determine how child support will be calculated:
(a) The starting point is a set-off between the Federal Child Support Guidelines Table amount that each parent would pay to the other (as though each was seeking child support from the other).
(b) The court will then consider the increased costs that are associated with shared parenting, as determined by examining the budgets and actual expenditures of each parent.
(c) Finally, the court will consider the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of each parent and child. The court will be concerned with ensuring that the child’s standard of living is maintained between each parent’s household.
Undue hardship, the other exception that provides courts with the discretion to depart from the Federal Child Support Guidelines Tables, is set out in section 10 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines. To prove undue hardship you must show two things:
(a) That your circumstances would make it hard to:
i. pay the required amount; or
ii. support the child on the amount of support you receive.
(b) That your household’s standard of living is lower than the other parent’s household’s standard of living.
The Federal Child Support Guidelines include a list of circumstances that could cause undue hardship, such as:
(a) unusually high debts that you reasonably incurred to support the family before the separation or to earn a living;
(b) unusually high costs associated with access to your child;
(c) a legal duty to support a dependent child from another relationship;
(d) a legal duty to support any other person, such as a former spouse or a new spouse who is too ill or disabled to be able to support himself or herself.
You can use Worksheet 3 created by the Federal Department of Justice to compare the standards of living of the two households. This worksheet is based on the standard-of-living test found in the Federal Child Support Guidelines.
If you are currently paying or receiving child support, we encourage you to talk to a lawyer about how the 2017 Update to the Federal Child Support Guidelines Tables could affect you. A lawyer can also advise you about how many other of life’s changed circumstances might affect the amount of child support that you are required to pay, or entitled to receive.
All of the lawyers at Brown Henderson Melbye regularly work with, and advise clients, about the Federal Child Support Guidelines. We have experience working with parents who either pay, or receive, child support. Our goal is always to ensure that a fair and appropriate amount of support is being paid for the support of a child.