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Family law: Federal or provincial child support guidelines?

When Ontario couples with children file for divorce, the parents may have questions about child support laws. They may not understand when federal or provincial family law applies to their situation. In Canada, family law responsibility is shared by provincial and federal governments with some guidelines for child support being governed by federal law, and others by provincial law.

Some Canadian provinces or territories have their own laws and child support guidelines, but Ontario is not one of them. Federal guidelines will apply if the parents who have filed for divorce are residents of different provinces, and the same will apply if the couple filed for a divorce under the Canada Divorce Act in Ontario but live in different countries. However, there may be exceptions in which the other country's laws might apply.

There are certain circumstances under which provincial child support guidelines will be applicable in Ontario. This will include situations in which there was no marriage between the parents of a child. Also, if the parents are still married, but separated, child support will be governed by provincial family laws.

It makes good sense for an Ontario parent who is seeking divorce or separation to consult with an experienced family law lawyer. Legal counsel can assess the circumstances and explain which laws and child support guidelines apply to the parent's situation. As with any other guidelines that involve children, whether it is child support or access, the applicable laws in these cases will serve the best interests of the child.

Source:, "The Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step", Accessed on Dec. 22, 2017

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