In order to avoid the enormous amount of wasted time and money that used to be spent on calculating an appropriate level of child support, the powers-that-BE instituted the Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines are a mandatory schedule of support based solely on the payor’s income and the number of dependent children.
As with all things, nothing is completely black and white, so inform yourself, and then talk to a lawyer.
The nation-wide child suppport guidelines were intended to limit the very costly and picayune litigation over child support. There are now helpful resources published using your tax dollars. See the link below for one such.
The problem is, wherever there is a “system”, a whole new set of problems arise as the system becomes a game that is played. Primary among these is the increasing belligerence shown by parents to the sharing of parenting. Generally, if both parents have equal income, and they have “shared” custody (most often being a weekly rotation of care), then the child support obligations of the parents cancel out each other. Knowing this, a parent who happens to have the children with him or her for more than half of the time tends to be extremely reluctant to move to a shared parenting plan simply because it means they will get less money.
Children are therefore turned into a commodity. Parenting plans and child support are supposed to be independent considerations. They are in law, but not in practice. Very recent experience in my practice shows how a parent who is otherwise fairly decent and caring, actually creates problems in order to avoid the sharing of custody.
What’s the answer? Ultimately, it is up to a trial judge to decide. One primary factor in deciding the “best interests of the children” is that the children should have maximum contact with both parents. Courts have held that where one parent is supportive of the other parent’s full involvement, but the other parent is not, primary care will be awarded to the one who is supportive of the involvement of both parents.
But that usually involved a trial, and we are back into costly litigation anyway. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
Read More about the Child Support Guidelines
Do fathers get custody of their children?
The short answer is “Yes”. The Children’s Law Reform Act does not impose any pre-disposition to mothers as primary parents. It is societal norms and, most often, fathers themselves that get in the way by deferring primary parental responsibilities to the mothers. There has been a growing trend towards shared (50-50) parenting of children as it often results in maximizing the time the children spend with both parents, which is one of the objectives of the Act.
One wrinkle to arriving at that as a settlement is that the child support tends to be then also a shared obligation, and the financial consequences to the (usually the mother) make the primary parent resist this conclusion. That’s often the practical impediment to settlement rather than the “best interests of the children” test…..so what is often the “right” thing to do is very much subject to the self interests of the parents.