Many couples who separate are able to agree, either independently or through mediation, on the main issues involving the children, and they therefore do not go through the court system to obtain a child support order. However, a court order can be very important for both parties.
As the payor spouse, there is a risk that if you are paying support directly to your former spouse, but not through the Family Responsibility Office (FRO), you may later be unable to prove you made those support payments and your spouse may deny receiving them. There is also a risk that, if you and your spouse (perhaps unknowingly) agreed to an amount of child support that is less that the Guideline amount, and your spouse then goes to court to vary the agreement, the court may order retroactive support to cover the difference between what you were paying and what you would have paid during that period under the Guidelines. Obtaining a court order ensures that you are paying the correct amount of support.
As the parent receiving the support, a court order is in your best interests, because you have no way to enforce the support payments if you do not have a support order registered with FRO. As discussed in our article: Enforcing Child Support, child support orders will be monitored and enforced by FRO, but only if the support obligation is part of a court order or if a domestic contract, filed with the court, specifying that obligation is to be registered with FRO. It is therefore important that you either obtain a court order or register your contract with FRO.
A court order is also important because it provides both parties with a record and something to rely on. While parties may agree to deviate from the agreement informally if they choose to, the court order remains in place and can be enforced if one of the parties wishes to return to it. If circumstances change, one or both parties can apply to vary the court order.
Our Ontario family lawyers can give you more information about child support orders and what to do to ensure the full protection of your interests and rights. Call (905) 581-7222 today!