What do I need to know about making an agreement on child support?

Agreements about child support can only be made at, or after, separation to ensure the agreement is appropriate under the circumstances.

Child support is based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Many parents use the child support guidelines to help them reach agreement.

Child support, although paid to the parent, is the legal right of the child. A parent cannot make an agreement saying the other parent does not have to pay child support.

But if parents can agree, they have some flexibility in setting the child support amount, as long as reasonable arrangements have been made taking into account the guideline amount. For example, they may agree the paying parent pays less because they are also paying some of the child’s expenses directly. Or, one parent may give up their right to the family home so the other parent and child can remain there with the understanding this would be off-set through lower monthly child support.

If you are seeking a divorce, you must have child support sorted-out. The judge cannot grant your divorce unless he or she is satisfied appropriate financial arrangements are in place for the child(ren).

Changing a child support agreement in court (by setting it aside and replacing it with an order) is similar to changing a child support order. This ensures child support agreements can be changed to allow for changes in the child’s circumstances and the parents’ incomes.

If you have a written agreement about child support, you can file it with the court registry and enrol it with the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP). The FMEP can enforce the order or agreement if necessary. This means they can help you get the child support due if the other parent is late in making payments or refuses to pay.