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The matrimonial home and child support: Who will stay and receive?

Establishing an appropriate child support plan can be a complicated process. Parents can come to an agreement outside of court, or they can ask a judge to make a child support order based on the formulas provided in the Child Support Guidelines. In any case, to ensure that a child support agreement is enforceable, it is important to put it in writing.

The amount of child support to be paid is determined by calculating the income of both parents. Because the children usually remain in the matrimonial home after the parents separate, the parent who stays in the home also tends to be the recipient of child support. Whether or not a parent remains in the family home can affect every aspect of a divorce.

In many cases, when a parent leaves the matrimonial home, a dangerous status quo is set. The parent becomes less involved in the daily lives of the kids, and the other parent is positioned as the primary caregiver. The court is likely to consider this status quo when determining matters of child custody.

The parent who leaves the matrimonial home will also be responsible for paying child support, while the other parent holds on to what in many families is the most valuable asset — the home. If it is determined that the divorce will result in an economic disadvantage to the parent who stays in the home, then the parent who leaves may have to pay spousal support in addition to child support.

Any parent faced with these possibilities should seek legal counsel to achieve a favourable outcome.

Toronto family lawyer Elliot S. Birnboim works to protect the rights of parents with child support concerns. To learn more about these matters, please visit

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