More Comments on Contino

David Giles did a write up of the Contino decision. Overall, I think it’s a pretty good analysis. However, I disagree with him on a couple of points.

David says that the decision has “opened the door to shared parenting by removing the reduction in child support argument.” With respect, I disagee. While there’s no longer an automatic presumption of a reduction in child support in cases of shared parenting, there’s still the possibility, and people will be alert to this.

David also says “I think the SCC has opened up a new controversy by confirming that the table amounts do not take into account any child related expenses (shelter, food, clothing, etc.) incurred by the payor parent at any level of access.” This always has been clear – it’s not new. See family law lawyer Gene Colman’s analysis of the Court of Appeal decision in which he eloquently states:

“In truth, the Federal Child Support Guidelines (and by consequence, the provincial counterparts) assume, in the actual design of the numerical entries for the table amounts, that the access parent incurs absolutely no costs for the child. (This has enormous ramifications with respect to the manner in which section 9 should be interpreted.) To prove the point that the Guidelines do indeed assume that the payor parent has absolutely no costs associated with the children, one need search no further than an overlooked publication authored by the Child Support Team from the Department of Justice Canada, Formula For the Table of Amounts Contained in the Federal Child Support Guidelines: A Technical Report (CSR- 1997-1E) (Child Support Team, December 1997):[20] Indeed, the philosophical and theoretical underpinning of the entire standard table amount is premised upon the fact that the payor parent incurs absolutely no child-centred costs.”

In any event, it will be very interesting to see how trial and motions judges deal with this decision. In a sense for shared custody cases, we’re back to the pre-Guidelines calculation of child support, with all the benefits and problems that this situation means.


  1. The child support guidelines were set up for a reason and with a lot of thought behind them. It is definately in the best of the kids and that is what they are for. It’s about time the Contino case happened.

    My kids have been nothing but pawns of the system. What’s worse is that the person from the OFL didn’t even have a course in child development, psychology or was even a mother. And all the research states that kids should stay with their mothers as they are growing/during their formative years. In times of identity formation of course it is necessary to have a role model of the same sex. Keeping the status quo at the time of marriage is critical vs. the guy suddenly becoming available, gosh golly gee. But he was never before. Now imagine that.
    Bravo to the courts for stopping this money grab of the 40% ruling to opt out of the guidelines.

    • I wish my ex had been the main breadwinner then she would know how it feels to be accused ” of never being there”. I could see my kids almost every day and look forward to a ”weekend off” as she puts it. Spouses who choose to leave the marriage should be the ones to make a new life for themselves and not have the power to force another to be without one. Not fair , not Constitutional. No fault Divorce is wrong .

  2. I know little about the law concerning child support. I was wondering if a father is providing child support and the mother asks for items for their child that are necessary for school like snow pants, indoor shoes, etc. on top of her monthly child support can the father deduct those items from the mother’s support? She should be using the money to buy the child those things but is obviously not and using it for herself. What is the best way to deal with this kind of issue?

    • diane if you find the answer too youre question plse let me know i would love too start deducting what i buy extra from the suport i pay havin joint custody its not all about the money too me its the principle why am i paying support yet i still paying for what my boys need

  3. I am not in a high conflict divorce yet but I feel that I am on the brink of it. I am in a shared custody relationship with my ex and out current financial statements show that we can both pay all our bills. This is a good thing right ??? The net disposable income between the two of is is 83% in her favour. That’s 83% of the $300 combined NDI of the two households. Still – I can live with this. The problem comes when you apply the guideline set-off amounts to our case and it appears as if I am $5000 behind in arrears. My current payment I am told should be around $900 per month. This is based on incomes for the purpose of child support of around 15,000 on her side and 65000 on mine. The kicker is that we each spend around $36,000 per year on our households.
    She gets $11,000 is tax benefits and I pay about $19,000 in automatic deductions including taxes. The end result is a pair of households that have the same financial means. How can I get a justice to respect the Child Support Guidelines and examine Section 9c to find that the current equilibrium is working? Should the NDIs really be $1000 for her and -$950 for me? I am in a proposal and must keep up my $375 per month debt payments – there is no line-of-credit – I can’t go into debt – the money is not there. I have car payments and my insurance is higher because I’m male – no accidents. I’ve repartnered but my common-law partner gets no support from her ex for her 3 children. The concern is that I am either living off the income of my partner or I am diverting my own income to support my partner but neither of those scenarios is the case.

    The reason this is on the verge of intense high-conflict is that she caused my license to be suspended – despite the fact that we are in court working through this. Is this not the very definition of adding insult to injury? I told her she would have to do the taxiing of the kids since I can’t drive and that whatever excuse she tells for 15 year old daughter that she should tell me too. The email I got was that “I told her the truth”.

    The next day I asked my daughter what was mentioned about my inability to drive and all my daughter could say was that it was complicated and that I lost my license. I found out later that my daughter was covering up for what my ex really told her – which was (of course) her side of the story… your dad won’t pay me. He’s being bad and he is being punished. So now my daughter is absolutely caught in the middle and I am furious about it!

    Today I got excuses from my daughter about why she didn’t want to come to my house after school. Which may or may not be excuses – I don;t know. I feel I need to tell my daughter that there is a disagreement going on and that we are getting a solution, slowly from the court system. But I should also explain to her that it was her mother;s decision to have me lose my license and for that I am very upset with her.

    After 6 years of no issues regarding access, custody, holidays, minor adjustments to schedule, taking care of doctor, dentist etc. etc. etc. it has all come down to this.

    The beginning of a high-conflict situation which will potentially have lasting damaging effects on the children as each parent is constantly assaulting them with stories of how bad the other parent is behaving.

    I don’t want this to get WAY WORSE before it can get better. As far as I’m concerned, that would be too late.

    The court must accept there is an existing equilibrium as both sides can pay all there bills with a small amount of money left over. This currently is ‘well enough’ and PLEASE – for the sake of the children – LEAVE WELL ENOUGH ALONE !!!!!

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