Child Support: If I Can’t Pay, Do I Qualify for Undue Hardship?

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The Obligation To Pay Child Support Is Enshrined In Canadian Law. It Is Designed To Ensure The Well-Being And Upbringing Of A Child After Their Parents Separate Or Divorce. But What Happens When A Parent Is Genuinely Unable To Fulfill This Financial Duty Due To Undue Hardship?​

Understanding The Child Support Guidelines and Undue Hardship

The concept of ‘undue hardship’ is recognized in the Child Support Guidelines under s.10, to determine if the amount of financial support should be different from the set Guideline amount based on income.

However, qualifying for undue hardship is not straightforward. The parent claiming undue hardship must provide clear, compelling evidence of conditions that make the current child support order too difficult to meet under strict circumstances relayed under s.10(2) of the Guidelines.

This could include situations like unusually high level of debt reasonably incurred to support the family during cohabitation, unusually high expenses to exercise parenting time, a legal duty to support any person, and a legal duty to support a child other than one of the relationship.

What Happens After Proving Undue Hardship?

After a parent has proven undue hardship, the court then does a standards of living test in both households before determining the amount of support that should be paid.

It is essential to note that simply finding support payments challenging or inconvenient does not qualify as ‘undue hardship.’ The conditions must be severe, unavoidable and fall within the listed circumstances. Furthermore, courts will always prioritize the child’s best interests when considering an undue hardship claim.

Therefore, if you find yourself in a situation where you’re struggling to meet child support payments, it’s crucial to seek legal advice. Understanding the complex criteria and legal processes surrounding ‘undue hardship’ is an important step towards finding a resolution.


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