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The amount of child support that should be paid in cases where both parents spend approximately equal amounts of time with their children has always been controversial.
Shared Custody Normally Means Reduced Child Support
On the one hand, the parent who is paying child support has increased costs due to the extra time spent with the children. However, these increased costs are not normally offset by decreased costs for the other parent. How should these two competing interests be balanced?
The Child Support Guidelines allow courts to reduce the amount of child support a person pays if he or she spends more than 40% of the time with their children. However, until recently, judges often declined to do this.
The Ontario Court of Appeal has recently ruled, in the Contino case, that when a parent spends more than 40% of the time with their children, child support normally must be reduced.
The Court also discussed how much child support should be reduced in these sorts of cases. Judges are to consider the table amounts applicable to each spouse, the increased costs of the shared custody arrangement, the needs of the children, and the means of the parent. No particular formula is to be followed.
This decision introduces a greater degree of subjectivity into the calculations of child support. A judge is no longer required to simply follow what is in the Child Support Tables. It is up to the parents to argue how much or how little child support should be reduced from the table amount. This makes it is more important than ever to have a good family law lawyer helping you with your child support case.