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What is Set-Off Child Support and How is it Determined?

Updated: Jul 22, 2023

Set-off child support is often paid when each parent has at least 40% parenting time with their child(ren). Instead of each parent paying child support to one another, the parent with the higher income pays the difference between the support amounts set out in the applicable tables in the Federal Child Support Guidelines (CSG). For example, if Parent 1 is to pay $1,000 according to the table, and Parent 2 is to pay $700, Parent 1 would pay a simple set-off amount of $300 to Parent 2.

However, courts can adjust the simple set-off amount based on a variety of factors. Section 9 of the CSG states that when each parent has at least 40% parenting time, the court must consider the following factors to determine the amount of child support:

  1. The child support amounts allocated in the relevant tables for each parent.

  2. The additional expenses incurred by shared parenting arrangements.

  3. The conditions, means, requirements, and other relevant factors affecting each parent and the child(ren) for whom support is being sought.

When a court considers the above factors, they will conduct a two-part analysis that is described in Contino v Leonelli-Contino. First, the court must determine that each parent has at least 40% parenting time on an hourly basis. This calculation is based on the hours in which the child(ren) are in the general control of the parent, and is not based on physical possession. So, the hours that children are at school or playing hockey, for example, is allotted to the parent that has general control over them in that time.

Once the 40% threshold is met, the court will analyze the three factors under section 9 of the CSG. First, the court will determine the simple set-off amount prescribed the applicable tables (as described previously). Next, the court will consider increased costs associated with shared parenting time. Here, the court will look at each parent’s budgets and actual expenses related to the child(ren) (e.g., housing, clothing, transportation) to determine if caring for the children jointly has increased overall costs.

The court will consider the conditions, means, needs, and other circumstances of each parent and of their children who support will be provided for. Here the court will analyze three additional factors: (1) the actual spending patterns of the parents; (2) the ability of each parent to bear the increased costs of shared custody (including assets, liabilities, income levels, and income disparities); and (3) the standard of living in each household.

Based on the factors outlined above, the court may adjust the simple set-off amount of child

support. The goal of an adjustment is to reduce disparities in the standard of living of the children between the two households. However, an adjustment will not be ordered if it would result in hardship for the payor parent.

Our team at INB Family Law is skilled and experienced in dealing with child support issues. Please do not hesitate to contact us at or 905-215-1905 to book your consultation.

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Jul 13, 2023

I think these are important things to consider. I am most interested in my child’s outcome and well-being from my separation. Learning these things about it is important.


Jul 12, 2023

It's interesting to learn that instead of both parents paying child support to each other, the higher-income parent pays the difference based on the guidelines. Thanks!

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