In most cases the access parent has to pay monthly child support as the custodial parent likely has the child living with him/her full time and as a result, has incurred increased expenses. If the primary caregiver seeks child support then there are standard child support guidelines that are based upon the number of children (for whom support is payable) and the income of the payer/access parent. These guidelines for child support are known as the “table amount”. The table amount is predetermined and there is no room for scaling back the amount payable. That is to say, there is no wiggle room for discretion here. In some cases a payer of child support can argue that given his/her difficult financial or other situation such as a disability, child support cannot be paid. This is known as an undue hardship claim. All or part of expenses for extra-curricular activities, also known as “special expenses” may also have to paid in addition to child support. Child support usually is payable until the child reaches 18 years of age. Should the child continue to post-secondary education, the payer could continue to be responsible to pay support well into the child’s 20s. If a child has a disability, support could be payable indefinitely.
Spousal support on the other hand is more discretionary in that there is no “fixed” amount per month. The duration of support also is more discretionary. Case law in the area of spousal support varies. This makes predictions in terms of how much support a payer must pay much more difficult to make. There are spousal support guidelines, (readily available on the internet) but these offer more of a benchmark than a fixed rule and also vary in terms of the suggested amount payable. When trying to determine what the appropriate amount of spousal support should be, some of the following factors are considered: the length of the marriage, the age and health of the parties, available employment opportunities, the effect that the marriage had on employment opportunities, the family’s standard of living during the marriage and the need for a recipient of support to stay home to take care of young children or adults with disabilities. This is not an exhaustive list. As each case is unique it is always best to consult with a family law lawyer to try to determine what the appropriate monthly support amount is.