Legal Eagle: Baby formula
- Dawn Dumont | December 18, 2015
I sent out a request to my friends for a legal question and this is the one that reached me first: How far back can you claim for child support? Like what if my kid is 5 years old and I never asked for it – can I get that back-pay now?
Short answer: you can ask for child support as far back as you think is deserved and the court will decide if you are gonna get it.
Long answer: The obligation to support your child begins at birth – their birth. That means even if you and your partner said “see ya later” the moment after conception, you are both still responsible for the finances of this tiny person.
So ideally, you should be able to get support from the date of the break up to present-day. But the longer you wait to apply, the harder it gets to determine how much your ex was making in those years when they weren’t paying child support. As well, your ex may argue that paying five years back-pay may cause them undue hardship. You may also be required to explain why you didn’t apply for child support during those five years. And, if the courts are anything like Revenue Canada, the excuse, “cuz paperwork is a bitch,” probably won’t fly.
Therefore, if your ex isn’t helping you out or is doing so on an inconsistent basis, then apply for child support asap. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to collect and the more likely that you’ll have to hire a lawyer.
Now let’s talk about how much you can expect. Each province has a formula to calculate support. It’s based on a few things including: the parent’s income, the child-sharing ratio and the child’s needs. The non-custodial parent must pay even if they don’t make a lot – the federal support tables begin at $10,820. If at all possible, try not to have children with someone who makes that little because your child support for one child per month could be as little as $4.00. That’s gonna go pretty fast at Ruckers.
To calculate child support you can add in expenses like school fees, sports and music lessons. How much your partner will pay depends on the ratio of time that the custodial parent has the kids. To give you a sense of what you can expect for child support, there are various child support calculators online. I checked out mysupportcalculator.ca and typed in various scenarios including what if your ex-partner made $1 million a year? That came out to about $6,000 a month per child – cha-ching!
If you are unable to reach an agreement with your ex, then you’ll have to go to court. I know someone who represented themselves in family court and prepared all their documents. They’re one of those nerd-types. To see if I could do it, I went to the provincial website and found a contact number. Within a day the province emailed me a child support kit. It crashed my computer twice, which doesn’t mean anything, I just have a lousy computer. There’s a lot of paperwork to file but I could probably do it if I stopped watching HGTV for a couple hours.
If your partner won’t pay support, you can report them to the provincial Maintenance Enforcement Office (MEO). The MEO collects from paychecks, investments, and property income. They can also seize bank accounts and stop the deadbeat from registering for a hunting, fishing or driver’s license. I used to work with a guy who could not get his license because he owed so much child support. You’ll be happy to know I was always late to pick him up.
There are limitations to the MEO depending on the Indian Act status of the child support payer. The MEO cannot always seize on-reserve assets. But they can still use other measures like the interception of federal money, driver’s license suspension and back account garnishment.
A misconception I see on Facebook is people posting about “not being able to see their kids” cuz they failed to pay their child support. (Although why you’d post that and expect “likes” is beyond my comprehension.) Support is in the best interests of the child, obviously. But so is having a relationship with their parents. Therefore your ex cannot stop you from visitations if you’re late on payments – so, you can stop posting about that and post some pics of your kids.