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Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support in Canada?

Can You Go to Jail for Not Paying Child Support in Canada?

Canada has a law that is called the “duty to provide support.” It states that parents must support their children. This duty may enforce through the courts if certain unpaid periods. So does it mean can you go to jail for not paying child support in Canada?

The answer is Yes, but it depends. Although, there are other legal consequences like having your passport taken away or contempt of court. Read on for more information.

What is Child Support & Why Do You Need to Pay It?

Child support is a monthly payment from the non-custodial parent to pay for some of the expenses related to their children. It means that even if children do not live with both parents, they can still get money from both of them.

It also includes medical and dental care, child care expenses, education costs, and more. The amount varies depending on many factors, including the monthly income of each parent.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support Payments?

Non-payment of child support can have various consequences, depending on the situation and severity of the case. Some possible consequences are:

Garnishment of Wages

Suppose you don’t make your child support payments. The provincial government has the power to garnish some of your wages by contacting the employer to give it to the custodial parents.

There are rules that the provincial government must follow before they can do this. In Ontario, for example, you have to owe at least three months’ worth of child support. It is not a guarantee either, as it varies from case to case.

Revoking Passport

The government can revoke your passport if you owe more than $3,000 in child support. The government will then refuse to issue you a new passport until you resolve the matter. If you have a valid reason for traveling, you can get your passport back by paying the amount owed to the government.

It only works if you need a Canadian Passport and not a foreign one. If you owe money to other creditors, they may be able to deny issuing your passport until the clearing of the debt.

Driving License Suspension

The Provincial Court has the power to suspend your driver’s license if not paying child support. However, while not paying child support is not a crime, not having a valid driver’s license might be against the law.

Seizure of Bank Account

The government may seize not only your wages but also your bank account. If not paying child support, the provincial office might contact the financial companies to seize the account.

Jail Time

If not paying child support becomes a habit, you will have to pay what you owe and interest and other penalties. If you ignore the rules and are not paying child support for at least 6 months, it could be possible that it might lead to jail time from 15 days to 6 months, depending on the issues.


If you are convicted of contempt of court for not paying child support, the fine you will have to pay may be at least $500. If this is your second conviction, then the amount that is due might be higher than average.

Is There Any Way to Reduce Child Support Payments?

The court can only reduce the amount of child support if they know about things like a change in your income. Some factors could lead to a reduction or increase in child-support payments, including:

  • Any civil or criminal proceedings that impact the financial situation of either parent
  • High expenses that one of you has for paying support. This might include extra costs to travel for visitation, child care expenses.
  • Additional medical or other needs that your children might have.
  • A payer might get forced to pay through garnishment if they have a low income and cannot afford the payments.

If both parents are responsible for paying child support, then this amount could be lowered.

How to Calculate Child Support Payments?

When a court orders a divorced or separated parent to pay child support, they go through the Child Support Guidelines. This is what helps set the amount of child support you have to pay each month.

The government tries to make it fair by having both parents share the cost of raising their children. They do this by checking your income and look at other factors. Some factors affect the calculation.

Basic Needs of Children

It includes the cost of food, clothing, or shelter. It applies to extraordinary necessities, too, because of a physical condition. You have to cover these expenses until your child turns 18, even if they are in full-time school or not living with you anymore.

Payer’s Income

It is the amount of money you earn every year before taxes. It includes money from all your sources, including employment, self-employment, investments, or pensions. You have to report this income even if you are not paid that much.

If the payer has a low income, then the payments would be low as well. If the payer has a high income, then he or she will most likely have to pay more.

Read Also: How to Stop Child Support Payments

How Can Lawyers Help You If You Find Such Difficulties?

If you cannot pay child support, it is recommended that you need legal help before things become worse. A child support lawyer will help you if someone accuses you of not paying child support. They can stand up for your rights too. Some important points on how lawyers help:

  • A lawyer will be able to help you go through all your finances. So they can find out exactly how much money is available for child support.
  • You can also see if there is a way to reduce child support payments in the future because your income changes.
  • If there is no other way, they will help you set up an affordable payment plan. So you do not have to worry about any legal consequences.
  • They can negotiate with the other parent or even the government agency responsible for child support.


With proper legal support, you can get out of having to pay child support for your children. It does not mean that the situation has been resolved immediately. But it is an excellent way to lessen your finances.

You do not have to go through this alone and try to handle child custody matters independently because it could result in more significant problems.

If you are struggling with child support payments, an excellent step would be to seek legal help. In case you need assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Do You Have to Pay Child Support?

You have to pay child support until a child turns 18 years old. But this doesn’t mean you have to stop supporting your children after 18. If they are still going to school, you might have to continue paying for their education until they graduate.

Does Child Support End When the Payer Dies?

No, the payments do not end in case the payer dies. Even if they had cancer and knew they would die soon, they would still have to pay for their children’s needs.

What happens if I don't pay child support in Canada?

Child Support Penalties (Jail, Fines, & Rights Revoked) Non-payment of child support can result in serious implications under Canadian law, including wage garnishment.

How can I get out of paying child support in Canada?

To request a reduction in child support, a payer must file a court petition stating undue hardship.

Can child support be enforced in Canada?

A support order can be enforced if the support is not paid in full. A written agreement to pay child or spousal support can be enforced. There is a Maintenance Enforcement Program in every province and territory.