A common question clients ask is whether or not financial disclosure from a new spouse is required for the purposes of determining child support. Unfortunately for your new spouse, there are cases where the Court may require disclosure of their financial information and supporting documents. While this may feel intrusive, rest assured that your new spouse’s financial information only becomes relevant in limited situations, including the following:
Where the payor parent claims hardship
In these cases, the payor parent is usually applying for an order that they pay less than the table amount of child support under the Federal Child Support Guidelines (the “Guidelines”). One of the factors the Court will consider in making a determination is the standard of living in both households, the income of all household members and the number of people in each home. In order to properly carry out this analysis, the Court may require financial disclosure from the new spouse.
In shared parenting arrangements
In cases where there is a shared parenting arrangement (where each parent is responsible for the child at least 40 per cent of the time), the Court has the discretion to determine child support using a set-off approach. For instance, if parent A would owe $600 per month in child support and parent B would owe $800 a month in child support, then essentially parent B would only pay the difference of $200 per month in child support.
In these cases, the law is very clear that the new spouse’s income is not to be taken into account in calculating the starting position of the analysis (the set-off amount). However, once the set-off amount is determined, the Court may consider the overall conditions, means, needs and other circumstances of each spouse to determine whether the set-off amount is appropriate. It is here where the Court may find it necessary to review the new spouse’s income in order to inform the overall assessment of what set-off amount is appropriate.
Nevertheless, the new spouse’s income is not automatically relevant even in these cases. Generally speaking, the new spouse’s income will not be relevant to the analysis unless it can be said that payment of the set-off amount will create a disparity between the two households.
Where the child is over 19
In some situations where the child is over the age of 19 but is still a dependent (for example, the child is attending university) the Court has the discretion to determine child support not based on each parent’s Line 150 income but rather by looking at what is appropriate having regard to the conditions, means, needs and other circumstance of the child and the financial ability of each spouse to contribute to the support of the child. Similar to above, in these situations the new spouse’s income may become relevant to the analysis.
Regardless of the above examples, it is important to remember that biological parents have the primary obligation to pay child support and not the new spouse.
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