Hello, my name is Lucy D’Ercole and I am a lawyer with Feldstein Family Law Group. Today I will be discussing annual income disclosure for support purposes.
When children are involved in a family law matter, one of the major issues to resolve is the amount of child support payable for them. To finalize child support, we rely on the Child Support Guidelines and the steps to determining the appropriate amount of support payable are explained in the Guidelines. I won’t be explaining the process for determining support in this video blog, except to say that the first place that we start is with the payor parent’s line 150 income as outlined in their Income Tax Return. When the payor is self-employed, has other sources of income, or other examples outlined in the Guidelines, additional disclosure is looked at to determine the amount of support payable.
Many clients ask what would happen if their income or their spouse’s income increases or decreases after they reach an agreement on the amount for child support. The answer is that the child support obligations will have to be reviewed and adjusted if necessary, to make sure that the amount being paid is appropriate. Of course, this would mean that in order to determine the appropriate amount, the relevant financial disclosure would have to be exchanged again for the appropriate period. There are many examples in case law where a payor parent began earning more or less money each year, but did not inform the other parent, so child support payments remained the same. I’m sure you can understand that this can be a problem when the recipient parent learns of this change and then attempts to change support and seek recalculations on a retroactive basis as well.
It’s for this reason that the guidelines state that where a Court Order is in place with respect to child support, when income or financial information is used to determine the amount of support payable, every year the relevant income information must be provided to the other party so that child support can be determined. While this is a good provision to have, two problems can arise. The first being that the parties still don’t exchange their income information on a yearly basis. The second, is that the language of the guidelines does not seem to extend to child support arrangements in place as part of a written separation agreement.
Since many couples resolve their family law matters outside of the Court system, it is typically advisable to include terms in the Separation Agreement that state that the income information be exchanged on a yearly basis. This will draw attention to the importance of this exchange of information and hopefully remind the couple that this will need to be done for as long as there are children who require support.
For more information on the calculation of child support, the Child Support Guidelines, or financial disclosure, please visit our website at www.separation.ca. If you would like to speak with one of our lawyers about your family law matter, please call us at 905-415-1636 to book a free initial in-office consultation. Thank you for watching!