Families Change Parent Guide to Separation & Divorce

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What if our situation changes?

Can we change a child support agreement or court order?

You can change a child support agreement or order if circumstances change. Examples of a change in circumstances include an increase or decrease in a parent’s income, a change in the parenting arrangements, a change in special expenses, or a child turns 19 (the age of majority in Newfoundland and Labrador). You and the other parent should talk about any changes in your incomes at least once a year.

If you agree to change the amount of support

If you and the other parent agree to change the amount of support in your current agreement according to the Child Support Guidelines, update the agreement in writing, or write up a new agreement as described on this website.

If you and the other parent agree that you want to change a child support order, you will have to apply to make the change in court, although it does not necessarily have to be the same court where the original order was made.

If you don’t agree to change the amount of support

If you and the other parent don’t agree to a change to the original court order, one or both of you can apply to the court that made the original order, and ask the court to change (vary) it. For help with how to do that in either Provincial or Supreme Court, you can contact Family Justice Services for assistance. You may also contact the Public Legal Information Association of NL (PLIAN) for general legal information or to receive a referral to a lawyer. PLIAN can be contacted at 1-888-660-7788 (toll-free), by email at info@publiclegalinfo.com, or via their website.

How long does child support go on for?

Both parents are financially responsible for their children until a child turns 19 (the age of majority in Newfoundland and Labrador). This obligation may continue for a longer period if a child is still dependent on his or her parents, such as when a child is ill, disabled, or attending school full time.

Child support continues even if the parent who has primary care of the children enters a new relationship. If you have questions about your situation, talk to a lawyer or contact the local Family Justice Services office in your area.

What happens if I receive child support and then get remarried?

If the children live with you most of the time and you remarry, the income of the new spouse does not affect the amount of child support you receive from the children’s other parent.

What happens if I pay child support then have a second family?

If you are the paying parent and have a new family to support, you are still required by law to financially support your other children. However, having a second family is an example of a situation that could cause undue hardship for you or for your children.

To claim undue hardship, you will have to go to court to prove that your second family will have a lower standard of living than your first family unless the child support payments are reduced. The court will consider both households’ standard of living, the income of all household members, and the number of people in each household.

If you think you have a case of undue hardship, it is advisable to contact a lawyer or consult with Family Justice Services to find out what you should do next.

What happens if we don’t have a written agreement or order?

If you made a child support agreement with the other parent but don’t have it in writing, the agreement is not enforceable — that means the law cannot force the other parent to pay what you agreed to. If the paying parent doesn’t pay what they said they would, you can contact the Support Enforcement Program to find out what you should do next. You may also wish to contact your local Family Justice Services office or to consult with a lawyer.

If you went to court and got a child support order but don’t have a copy of it, ask the court registry staff to help you get one.