Awards for spousal support and child support are often intended to go on for a significant period of time. Given that a payor might be paying one or both for several years, it is likely that the circumstances of at least one of the parties involved will change during that time. As a result, it may become necessary to address a party’s request to vary an existing support award.

The family law lawyers at Boulby Weinberg LLP have worked with many clients over the years on both sides of a support variation request. We understand that a sudden and drastic change with respect to employment, health or family circumstances can have a major impact on one’s finances. Support variation requests often require a sense of urgency given that one of the parties may be facing potential financial insecurity, pending a significant change to an existing support award. We work with our clients to find the most efficient and least onerous method to resolve a variation request quickly while ensuring their needs are met throughout the process and beyond.

Reasons to Vary an Existing Support Award

There are a number of reasons a person may wish to vary a support order. Generally, in order to grant the variation of an existing award, a court will require a demonstration that there has been a ‘material change’ in circumstance since the award was initially ordered. Most applications to vary support will be sought due to a change in financial circumstances, or a change in family status. Below are some of the most common reasons a court may order a variation on an existing support award:

  • A change in marital status: if the recipient of spousal support remarries or begins cohabitating with a new partner who has significant means;
  • If either the payor or the payee has a change in their ability to earn income. For example, if one person becomes disabled and is no longer able to work, this would have a significant impact on the financial needs or ability to pay. In either case, this situation would likely necessitate a change; or
  • If one party had a drastic reduction in income due to job loss, demotion, or a bankruptcy of their business.

What is the Process to Change a Support Order in Ontario? 

If the request to vary a support order has the consent of both parties, the request can be formalized without the need for expensive litigation. The parties will submit a Motion to Change for endorsement of the Court.

If the matter is contested, the parties will likely need to enter into mediation, arbitration or litigation in order to resolve the issue. Unless the initial order set a different standard for review, the party seeking the variation will be required to establish a material change in circumstances. This can be done by demonstrating that, had the current circumstance existed at the time the original amount was set, it likely would have resulted in a different order. This can be a difficult hurdle to clear, and courts have the discretion to decide each case on the merits.

For Advice and Representation with Respect to Varying Child or Spousal Support, Contact Boulby Weinberg LLP

Applications to vary a support order can be time-consuming and may involve concerns about financial insecurity for one or both parties. It is important to resolve these matters quickly and with the best interests of the parties in mind. At Boulby Weinberg LLP, our lawyers work with clients seeking to vary existing orders, as well as those looking to maintain the status quo in the face of a support variation request.

To arrange a consultation with a reputable and empathetic lawyer at Boulby Weinberg LLP, please complete our confidential online questionnaire, which will provide you with valuable preliminary information tailored to your situation. A representative from our firm will contact you within one business day to discuss your matter further and arrange an initial meeting. To contact our firm without completing the questionnaire, please reach out to us online, or call us at 647-494-0113 ext. 102.