Family Law... How Do I Update a Child Support Order?

Christine Doucet – April 2016

How Do I Update a Child Support Order?

Family circumstances change frequently, but child support orders often remain in place for years.  This means that they may not reflect the current reality.  Since the time of the order, the payor’s income or the parenting arrangement may have changed.  A requirement to contribute to childcare or certain extra-curricular expenses may also be outdated.

There are several ways we assist clients in updating an outdated child support order:

Consent – We first determine whether the other party is in agreement with updating the child support order.  If so, we obtain the other party’s current income information and prepare a Consent Order setting out the new child support arrangement.  The Order must refer to the payor’s current income and list the full names and dates of birth of the children for whom the support is payable.  The Order must be filed with the Court.  In order to do so, the Court requires that we file a Notice of Variation Application and updated financial information.  Once the Order is issued, it is sent to the Maintenance Enforcement Program for enforcement.

Court Decision – If the other party is not in agreement, we may advise filing a Variation Application seeking an updated order for child support.  The other party will be sent a Notice to Disclose requiring him or her file updated income information with the Court.  The Court may then schedule a conciliation meeting, where you work with a staff member to reach agreement with the other party on the terms of a Consent Order.  This process is usually available to self-represented parties, but may also be available to represented parties if specifically requested.  If agreement is not reached at the conciliation, the matter will be referred to a judge for a hearing.  The judge will make a decision on the new child support amount, and either your lawyer or the Court will draft an updated Order.

Administrative Recalculation Program – As of November 2014, a new option became available.  The Nova Scotia government established this program for the purpose of recalculating child support on an annual basis.  It is a free service.  To be part of the program, child support payors or recipients must first obtain a Court order that states that support will be adjusted annually pursuant to this program.  Not all cases can be part of the program.  For example, both the payor and recipient must live in Nova Scotia, the children must live in the primary care of one parent (i.e. not shared parenting), and the payor must receive only employment income (as opposed to self-employment income or dividends).  Once a case is accepted into the program, the payor must provide updated income information to a recalculation clerk each year, no less than 60 days before the adjustment date.  The clerk will calculate the new child support amount and notify both parties.  If the payor does not provide the required information, his or her income will be deemed to be 10 per more than the prior year’s income.

The Administrative Recalculation Program applies only to Guideline child support.  It does not adjust contributions to section 7 expenses (such as childcare, health-related expenses, extra-curricular expenses, or university costs).  To update orders that apply to those expenses, the recipient needs to seek a Consent Order or bring a Variation Application.

Please contact any of MDW Law’s family lawyers to discuss your options in updating a child support Order.


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