The Child Support Guidelines state that there is a presumption that one parent pays the other parent child support according to the payer’s annual income and the “table” amount. [To see the child support tables, go to www.benmor.com, Links, Federal Child Support Guidelines]
For example, a non-custodial father of 2 children who earns $40,000 per year would pay a table amount of $570 per month. But a family court judge is given the discretion to deviate from the table amount and reduce the amount of child support payable if the payor has the children in his or her care for 40% of the time during the course of a year. The discretion is based on section 9 of the Child Support Guidelines.
Because there is no formula that can be applied in an equitable way in all circumstances, this discretion has caused confusion.
In the 2002 decision of Contino v. Leonelli-Contino, the appellate court set out guidelines for considering a deviation from the presumption that one parent pays the other parent child support according to the payor’s annual income and the table amount. The appellate court stated that there is a presumption in favour of the table amount. However, the parent seeking a deviation may establish on clear and compelling evidence that a reduction in child support is in the children’s best interest, and also based on the circumstances, as described in section 9 of the Child Support Guidelines.