Skip to Main Content

Can I get a refund on child support overpayments?

A child holding money. Stock photo by Getty Images

Child support payments can change for many different reasons. A change in income or loss of employment will affect how much you pay, and the child’s own age and post-secondary status are factors as well.

A scenario that sometimes emerges is where one parent believes they’ve paid too much in child support, and they want a refund. Refunds are not impossible to attain, but they could be very difficult.

Child support agreements are typically forged in one of two ways: either the parents can agree on one themselves or, failing that, ask a judge to determine the appropriate payments.

Mechanisms also exist to prevent overpayments in the first place.

Amounts are determined according to government guidelines, an important one being the payer’s income. Therefore, it’s important for the payer to keep the payee up to date on their own financial situation. In fact, most separation agreements contain a legal requirement that income information be updated on an annual basis.

Provincial recalculation services also exist, which can automatically update your income changes based on tax returns.

If you’re led to believe that you’re owed a refund on support payments, that’s also only attainable in one of two ways: agreement with your spouse or through a court order.

A court, however, is unlikely to order a refund if you haven’t been providing up-to-date income information. As long as you’re diligent with your updates, you likely won’t find yourself in a situation where refunds are required.

Other exceptional circumstances can arise, but the options are the same:  you’ll get a refund via a spouse-to-spouse agreement or from a judge.

Read more: