Generally the rule is that your new spouse’s income is not relevant to determining child support and it does not need to be disclosed. There are however certain circumstances when it may be relevant.

The first is in a shared parenting arrangement where both parents share parenting time 50/50 or at minimum one parent has the child 40% of the time. Each parent would owe the other child support pursuant to the Federal Child Support Guidelines and the parent with the higher income would pay the lower income parent an “off-set” amount, the difference between what each of them owe to the other.

In shared parenting, a new spouse’s income is not taken into account when determining the off-set amount but once that amount is determined, the new spouse’s income may become a factor when looking at the overall picture. If appropriate, a court may deem that the new spouse’s income is relevant where there is a significant disparity between the standard of living in each household.

Another situation where a new spouse’s income may become relevant is when the payor parent makes a hardship claim, arguing that the amount of child support they must pay according to the Child Support Guidelines will negatively impact them in a significant way. In the Ontario Supreme Court case Swift v. Swift, Justice Robertson said “Undue hardship is a tough threshold to meet.” Even if a determination of undue hardship can be made, that claim will be denied if it is determined that the household of the payor parent making the claim will have a higher standard of living than the household of the recipient parent. A new spouse’s income may play a role in that determination.

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Deborah A. Todd