Determining appropriate child support can be challenging, particularly when the parents have a shared parenting regime.

When there is clearly one primary residence for the child or children, the federal or provincial Child Support Guideline tables relating to the payor’s gross income are used to determine the base amount of support. Additional child support may be payable when there are “special and extraordinary” expenses relating to the children.

When there is a shared parenting regime for the children, the starting point for determining child support is the “set off” amount payable using the Child Support Guideline tables for each parent. However, according to the leading Supreme Court of Canada case of Contino vs. Leonelli-Contino, further adjustments are needed to ensure that the final outcome is fair in light of the conditions, means, needs and other circumstances of each spouse and child for whom support is sought.

The Contino case sets out the following factors that should be considered when determining appropriate child support in shared parenting regimes:

  1. Actual spending patterns of the parents;
  2. Ability of each parent to bear the increased costs of shared custody (which entails consideration of assets, liabilities, income levels and income disparities); and
  3. Standard of living for the children in each household.

Other issues relating to child support include:

  • Termination triggers
  • Ongoing disclosure
  • Variations and reviews when there is a change in circumstances
  • Proportionate sharing of post secondary expenses
  • Sharing of various tax credits and benefits
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