I am currently receiving Ontario Disability Support Payments (ODSP). My ex is claiming that I still have to pay child support. Do I?

(1) The Legal Test

A general misconception is that family law provides answers to questions. It usually doesn’t. The law provides legal tests – frameworks – to assess the merit of an argument. The test is either detailed in the legislated law, or created by a judge facing the same argument. Then, the test may be adopted by other judges in subsequent similar disputes. 

For this issue the legal test is:

1. “Income” is determined the Child Support Guidelines. The starting point is money you receive that is declared income on your tax return.

2. Schedule III of the Child Support Guidelines provides circumstances of legal adjustments to your income for determining “income” for support purposes. For example, income for the purpose of child support will be reduced by any amount of social assistance that is not attributable to the spouse/parent (e.g. ODSP paid to a child, which will be addressed in a separate post).

3. The Child Support Guidelines sets out a chart that calculates the presumptive amount of support depending on “income” and number of children. The Guidelines provides a self-support floor of income that will not generate a child support amount payable, even if there is a child in need/entitled to support. Currently, the Child Support Guidelines dictate that liability for child support currently starts with an annual income of $12,000. 

4. Above that floor, the Guidelines afford very little discretion to award less than the table amount for payors with income below the poverty line unless there is a claim for undue hardship (undue hardship will also be covered by a separate post). 

5. The fact that a person qualifies for ODSP does not, in of itself, prove that the person cannot work to any extent to support their dependent(s).

(2) Full Disclosure

Now that you see the test, you can start to compile documents to support your claim:

  • A copy of your ODSP application and attachments.
  • A copy of the decision notice, and any internal review application and resulting notice. 
  • A copy of any medical documentation to substantiate your disability, including for other programs that ODSP relies on to determine eligibility (e.g. prior CPP disability entitlement).
  • If relevant, copies of Employment and Training Income Reports. 
  • A resume, setting out your education and employment history prior to the disability (as applicable)

(3) Sources


Just as you ought to speak to a doctor before relying or applying medical information you find on the internet, you should speak to a legal professional before relying or applying legal information you read on the internet. If you are looking quick, competent and affordable family law advice, learn more or book your appointment.

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