Melissa Meeks, Jeremy Meeks’ estranged wife, is demanding child and spousal support, as well as sole custody and primary access of their seven year old son. Melissa claims that Jeremy sees their son “maybe 2 days a month”. Melissa has not disclosed how much support she is seeking as she claims that she is “not yet sure of his income”.
How does a child’s access schedule impact a parent’s child support obligations?
In Ontario, a parent has an absolute obligation to support their dependent children to the extent that they can, even if the parent has limited access to the child.
The approach for determining Child Support in Ontario is determined, in part, by the child’s access schedule.
The Child Support Guidelines codify the amount of financial support a non-custodial parent must pay the custodial parent for the maintenance and support of their mutual child, or children, on a monthly basis.
Section 3 of the Child Support Guidelines, outlines the quantity of support a non-custodial parent must pay. Generally speaking, the amount of support is fixed, and is determined by the gross income of the payor parent, the number of children being supported, and the province or territory in which the parents live.
Generally, the parent with whom the child primarily resides will receive fixed monthly child support from the other parent. The parent with primary access does not have mandated support contributions, as it is believed that the parent with whom the child primarily resides, will naturally contribute to supporting the child.
However, if the child spends at least 40% of his or her time with an access parent, that is, if there is a shared parenting schedule, then the access parent’s child support obligations may be lowered. The theory behind this is that when a child is spending nearly equal time with both parents, it is presumed that each parent will incur similar child care expenses. As such, if one parent had to pay the other the full Table amount child support, in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines, this would result in a windfall gain to one parent and undue hardship to the other.
If the Meeks family lived in Ontario, the fact that Jeremy only sees his son approximately two days a month, would not impact his child support obligations.