Child Support Agreements
Separated parents can make a private agreement about child support that does not involve the court or the Child Support Service. They may do this as part of a formal, written separation agreement. However, if they want a court order of support or a divorce, the amount of support must be reasonable. Visit the Child Support Guidelines section of this website for more information.
Are agreements binding?
The courts do not see agreements on child support to be binding like other contracts. For example, the court will not consider a parent who has the majority of parenting time to be bound by an agreement for child support, if that agreement is significantly less than the children would get under the guidelines and there are no other benefits to the children in the agreement that would make it fair.
What information is included in an agreement?
Agreements usually include information on the parents’ incomes at the time the agreement is made. They specify how long the support is to be paid (e.g., until the child is 18 or completes his or her first university degree). Most agreements also state that the parents can amend the agreement if an important change occurs, and if they cannot agree on the change, either can apply to the court for an order. Agreements often contain much more detail about support arrangements than the usual court order. Although the Maintenance Enforcement Program can enforce certain support agreements, as well as support orders, the program cannot do so if the provisions of the agreement are unclear or otherwise unsuitable for enforcement.
Can family arbitration awards include child support?
Family arbitration awards may include child support. If the award is made in compliance with recent amendments to The Arbitration Act, child support included in the award will have the same effect as a child support order or administrative decision of the Child Support Service and may be enforced by the Maintenance Enforcement Program.