This article is under development. We are working to create a straightforward guide to support calculations, and you are welcome to review this draft, but you should not rely on it.
In Canada, child support is money paid by a parent or guardian to another in order to contribute to the costs of caring for the children. With some exceptions, the amount of support is the amount set out in Child Support Guidelines.
This guide outlines the basic principles of child support and how it is determined under the Federal Child Support Guidelines. It also covers what's involved in obtaining a child support order or agreement, enforcing an order or agreement to collect the amount of support that is owed, and how to go about changing or updating a child support order that no longer reflects the current parenting or income situation.
If you're looking for legal advice or assistance dealing with a child support claim, please feel free to contact us for a referral to a local family lawyer.
Otherwise, please read on.
Introduction to Child Support in Canada
When parents separate, it usually has significant personal financial consequences. Expenses and costs increase - instead of sharing accommodations, each person must find a place to live, pay a separate mortgage or rent, utilities, transportation and other expenses that were previously shared. However, the income available to pay these costs typically remains the same or may even decrease. Where children live primarily with one parent, that parent will see substantially increased costs as compared to the non-custodial parent. Where children live with both parents ("shared parenting") but one has a higher income, the lower-earning parent will need support to provide an equivalent lifestyle for the children.
Child support is a legal mechanism for ensuring that both parents contribute to the costs of raising children, and that the children benefit from their parent's resources regardless of their living arrangements. It is based on the principle that both parents are legally required to support their children financially.
Child support is a payment made by a parent or guardian (the "payor") to another (the "recipient" or "payee") to help cover the costs incurred by the recipient to provide for the children. Although support is (usually) paid to a parent, under Canadian law, child support is characterized as being "the right of the child", and the purpose of support is to provide for the children. In Canada, the amount of child support is determined according to the Federal Child Support Guidelines, explained in more detail later in this guide.
It is important to emphasize what child support is not:
- child support is not a fee or the price of admission for parenting time with the child (parenting and access are dealt with entirely separately from child support under Canadian law);
- child support is not intended to support the recipient spouse or to offset the unequal economic impact of the breakdown of the relationship (that is what spousal support is for);
Child support is payable even where the paying parent has no other involvement or role in the child's life. It is also payable where both parents are equally involved but one parent earns more money than the other. The main requirement is parenthood -- which includes biological parenthood and in some situations also extends to step-parents and guardians.
Bankruptcy, debt obligations, and other financial difficulties do not eliminate the obligation to pay child support. Federal and provincial laws require courts to prioritize child support payments over other debts or insolvency if there is not enough money to pay both obligations. Child support obligations also survive bankruptcy.
Entitlement to Child Support
Child support law involves two categories of issues:
- entitlement to support, i.e. whether a particular child is entitled to support from a particular parent, guardian or stepparent; and
- calculating the amount of child support, which requires a determination of Guideline income.
This Guide is focused on how to calculate the amount of child support that is payable assuming entitlement. In other words, this guide will explain how to calculate child support if you have to pay support, or someone has to pay you support. This is not always the case! For various reasons, a person may not be required to pay support for a child. Our separate guide to child support entitlement covers a broad range of issues including support for minor children and adult children as well as contributions from biological unmarried parents, step-parents and guardians.
Calculating the Amount of Child Support
The Federal Child Support Guidelines
In Canada, outside of Quebec, child support is calculated based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines cover all elements of child support including basic monthly support as well as special expenses. Basic monthly support is calculated based on tables that are attached to the Guidelines. Special or exceptional child-related expenses are shared according to a formula set out in the Guidelines.
The Guidelines address the calculation of income, the payment of special expenses relating to children, how to calculate child support when the children live primarily with one parent ("primary parenting") and how to calculate child support when children live with both parents on a roughly equal basis ("shared parenting"), and other issues.
Before the Guidelines were introduced in 1997, a parent applying for child support would typically present a budget to show the amount of support needed, and prove the payor had the resources to pay support. The Guidelines generally make such budgets irrelevant. Instead, the focus is now normally on establishing the correct amount of income that should be used to calculate support ("Guideline income") and the payment of support for children over the age of majority (18 or 19 depending on jurisdiction, as discussed in more detail above).
The key presumption on which Guideline child support is determined is as set out in section 3(1) of the Guidelines:
Unless otherwise provided under these Guidelines, the amount of a child support order for children under the age of majority is
(a) the amount set out in the applicable table, according to the number of children under the age of majority to whom the order relates and the income of the spouse against whom the order is sought; and
(b) the amount, if any, determined under section 7.
In other words, the Guidelines presume that the amount of a child support order is the amount of basic child support set out in the applicable child support table appended to the Guidelines, plus any amount payable in relation to special or extraordinary child related expenses (section 7 support). These two types of support, basic child support and special expense (s. 7 support) are described in more detail below.
Note that the above presumption (that child support should be in the amount of s. 3 + s. 7 support) can be rebutted or challenged under the exceptions to the Guidelines, which are also addressed in more detail later in this guide.
The amount payable under s. 3 and s. 7 will typically change over time as the income of the payor varies or the expenses incurred by the child evolve. These adjustments do not require an adversarial court process (although parents often end up in court over such issues) as the parents can simply recalculate the amount of support based on current information, either manually or using software like the Divorcepath child support calculator. The important thing is that the child support amount be kept up to date, which requires the parents to exchange financial information (referred to as "disclosure") on a regular basis.
Changes to child support payments are discussed separately in more detail further below.
Basic Child Support vs. Special Expenses
The Guidelines provide for two types of child support: basic child support (s. 3 support) and support for special or extraordinary expenses (s. 7 support). These amounts are calculated separately using different formulas even if they are paid at the same time.
Basic child support is a monthly payment intended to contribute to the basic costs associated with raising a child. Basic child support does not include special or "extraordinary" expenses incurred on behalf of the child, such as child care expenses incurred in order for the custodial parent to work, health expenses, extraordinary school or post-secondary expenses, and extracurricular activities. A full list is available in our guide to special expenses.
By contrast, special expenses may be paid by either parent and are shared based on the income of both parents, after accounting for any related tax deductions, tax credits, or government benefits. In other words, after accounting for taxes and benefits, the net cost of the expense is shared between the parents based on their relative incomes. Software is typically used to accurately calculate the amount to be paid by each parent.
You can calculate basic child support payments and special expenses for any parenting arrangement using the Divorcepath child support calculator.
The Guideline formulas for calculating basic child support as well as special expenses are explained below.
Calculating Basic Child Support under the Guidelines (s. 3 Child Support)
If one parent has primary parenting of the children, basic child support is calculated based on the pre-tax (gross) income of the non-custodial (paying) parent. In shared or split-custody parenting situations, basic child support is calculated based on the income of both parents and a set-off is applied to determine any payment. Basic child support is calculated based on the Child Support Tables that are attached to the Guidelines and updated every few years (most recently in 2017).
There are different tables for each province and territory, reflecting different provincial tax regimes and government benefits in each jurisdiction. Section 3 of the Guidelines sets out the rules for calculating basic child support using the applicable table, so basic child support is often referred to as "section 3 child support" or "table support". For example, here is an excerpt from the child support table for Ontario:
The first column refers to the payor's income, the second column to the amount of support payable for 1 child, column 3 for two children, and so on.
Where support is paid for more than ___NTD___ children, a formula is used to determine the amount of additional support.
The Guideline tables only specify support payments for payor incomes up to $150,000. A formula is used to determine the amount of support payable for incomes above $150,000. However, note that the court has jurisdiction to order a different amount for high-income earners above this threshold (discussed in more detail below).
Using the Divorcepath child support calculator, you can calculate table child support according to the Child Support Guidelines by entering some basic information about yourself and your children. The key inputs for the purpose of calculating basic child support are used to select the correct amount from the correct Guideline table:
- the province in which the paying parent resides (or both parents in shared/split scenarios), which determines what guideline table to use;
- the income of the paying parent (or the income of both parents in shared or split parenting scenarios), which determines what row in the Guideline table applies;
- the number of children, which determines which Guideline column applies;
- the parenting arrangement for each child (you, your ex, or shared) which determines whether the primary, shared or split formulas are used to determine the net amount of support that is payable.
The calculator will display the monthly support payable under the Guidelines, as well as the details of the calculation showing the table amount for the payor, or for both parties in a shared parenting or split parenting situation where the amount of child support is set-off, as shown in the following examples:
Read the Child Support Calculator Quickstart for more information on how to calculate basic child support using the Divorcepath calculator, or sign up free to try it out yourself.
Calculating Special Expenses under the Guidelines (s. 7 Child Support)
[NTD: to be completed]
Child Support Guideline Income
In order to look-up the amount of basic or special expense support payable under the Guidelines, it is first necessary to determine the Guideline income of the paying parent. For split or shared parenting situations and for sharing special expenses, the Guideline income of both parents is relevant.
Determining income can be simple or complex depending on the parties' financial positions. Legal issues often arise in relation to disclosure of financial information, the interpretation of that financial information (i.e. to determine the income available to pay child support) and whether income should be "imputed" or adjusted beyond the taxable income that has been disclosed in order to fairly reflect a parent's obligation to support their child and their available resources.
These issues are summarized below, but you should bear in mind that the determination of Guideline Income can be a legally contentious issue. Depending on your circumstances you may need the assistance of a family lawyer to determine the proper amount of income to use for the purpose of calculating support, and ensure that you are receiving the correct amount if you are the recipient, or if you are the payor that you are protected from a claim for retroactive support.
Disclosure of Financial Information
The Guidelines require that income be determined using the latest financial information available. Applicants for support must disclose their financial information in a Financial Statement form that is provided by the court. Financial statements for each Canadian jurisdiction are linked from our child support guides for each Canadian province and territory. Download the disclosure request statement for your jurisdiction to see what you should request or provide for disclosure.
Typically, a party will be required to disclose:
- tax returns for the preceding 3 years (complete returns, not just summaries)
- CRA notices of assessment and reassessment for the preceding 3 years
- most recent pay stub(s), or alternatively WCB statements, social assistance summaries, or EI accounts
- financial statements and corporate tax returns for a business if the parent has a significant interest in a company
The information that must be disclosed will be different depending on the type of income that is earned. Disclosure might include:
- self-employed business accounts showing business income available to pay support
- information about stock options, tips, or bonuses
- WCB or personal injury claims or awards
- investment interest
- government benefits and social assistance income
With proper disclosure, calculating child support can be relatively straightforward and as simple as plugging the numbers into the calculator for each income type:
[screenshot with various incomes]
In more complex cases adjustments to income may be contentious or variable and unreliable income sources may need to be adjusted or averaged over time in order. to determine the amount of support, as discussed in the next section below.
The key in each case is proper disclosure. Where a parent withholds financial information or does not give timely disclosure of increases in income, they can become exposed to a claim for retroactive child support down the road. Most family lawyers will agree that it's important for the parents to stay current with respect to financial disclosure to avoid expensive and costly future legal battles. This is especially true where the parents are recalculating support themselves without the assistance of a family lawyer.
Determining Guideline Income
The determination of guideline income is normally based on the payor's total income for tax purposes (line 2600 of the income tax return) less allowable deductions. This often means guideline income is the amount reported on line 1500 of the income tax return, but there is a difference between tax deductions and deductions that are applicable to guideline income, so Guideline income will not always be the same as lIne 1500 income.
For example, allowable deductions from guideline income (that are also tax deductions) include:
- union dues and employment expenses
- business losses deductible against business income
- net rental expenses (as against rental income)
Tax deductions that are not considered to be guideline income deductions include:
- deductions for spousal support, child care expenses
- any capital gains deduction or capital gains and dividend income exemptions
- enhanced CPP contribution deductions
The Divorcepath child support calculator automatically distinguishes between the deductions that are usually applied to guideline income, and deductions that are ignored for the purpose of determining guideline income. However, it may be necessary to make manual adjustments for some types of deductions such as business losses. To make adjustments to Guideline Income, use the "Guideline Income Adjustments" form in the calculator to add each adjustment and specify the type of adjustment.
[screenshot guideline income adjustment]
Guideline income adjustments added through this form will change the guideline income used to calculate child support. The amount and type of any adjustments will be shown in any child support reports generated by the calculator. You can download a sample condensed child support report showing guideline income adjustments to see what this can look like.
Note that adjustments can also be added to increase Guideline Income, for example by imputing income, grossing-up foreign income, or adding back business expenses improperly incurred at the corporate level. This is discussed in more detail below.
Sometimes a parent's actual income does not reflect their ability to earn income. In these cases courts sometimes find that additional income should be added to the parent's actual income, for the purpose of calculating support. This is referred to as the "imputation" of income and the added income is called "imputed income".
Courts have imputed income to parents in many different situations, including where:
- the parent is unemployed or intentionally underemployed;
- the parent has additional income available in a business or corporation with which to pay support;
- the parent has not disclosed all of their financial information; and
- the parent has diverted money or hidden resources that would be available to pay support.
It isn't enough to say that one of the above situations applies - you have to prove it. In order to determine whether a parent is intentionally unemployed or underemployed, a court might consider the parent's:
- education, training, or work experience;
- prior earnings and means when unemployed;
- work history;
- spending patterns, budget and lifestyle;
- educational efforts and qualifications;
- efforts to obtain employment; and
- evidence that "ill will" is what motivates the payor to be unemployed or underemployed.
Courts will look poorly on a parent has the ability to earn more but chooses not to in order to reduce their support obligations, or increase the amount of support paid by the other parent:
1. There is a duty to seek employment in a case where a parent is healthy and there is no reason why the parent cannot work. It is 'no answer for a person liable to support a child to say that he is unemployed and does not intend to seek work or that his potential to earn income is an irrelevant factor' ...
2. When imputing income on the basis of intentional underemployment, a court must consider what is reasonable under the circumstances. The age, education, experience, skills and health of the parent are factors to be considered in addition to such matters as the availability of work, freedom to relocate and other obligations.
3. A parent's limited work experience and job skills do not justify a failure to pursue employment that does not require significant skills, or employment in which the necessary skills can be earned on the job. ... [C]ourts have never sanctioned the refusal of a parent to take reasonable steps to support his or her children simply because the parent cannot obtain interesting or highly paid employment.
4. Persistence in [poorly paid] employment may entitle the court to impute income.
5. A parent cannot be excused from his or her child support obligations [to pursue] unrealistic or unproductive career aspirations.
6. As a general rule, a parent cannot avoid child support obligations by a self-induced reduction of income."
There are two different ways to handle imputed income in the Divorcepath calculator.
- Add the income in the same way you would add any taxable income, for example employment income. This will affect both guideline income and the estimated taxes and benefits calculations. As a result, the monthly budget and net income reports will show results as though the parent actually earned the income that has been imputed to them.
- Add the imputed income as an "Adjustment to Guideline Income" as shown in the example above, which will not affect tax and benefit calculations. The added income will still be used to calculate support, but taxes and government benefits will be based on actual income.
If you are simply calculating basic child support, it will not matter to the outcome of the calculation whether you add the imputed income as ordinary income or as an adjustment to guideline income. However, if you are calculating the sharing of special expenses or spousal support, then the method used to add or impute income can make a big difference ($100s or $1000s) to the amount of support that is calculated.
The correct method to use will depend on your situation. If you need help entering an income adjustment, please contact us by email or chat. Note that although we can help you use the calculator and provide general legal information, we must refer you to a family lawyer if you need legal advice for your situation.
Another situation in which the court may impute or add income to the Guideline income of a parent is where the parent's income is not subject to tax at the usual rates. Section 19(1) of the Guidelines addresses this issue:
The court may impute such amount of income to a spouse as it considers appropriate in the circumstances, which circumstances include the following:
(b) the spouse is exempt from paying federal or provincial income tax;
(c) the spouse lives in a country that has effective rates of income tax that are significantly lower than those in Canada;
(h) the spouse derives a significant portion of income from dividends, capital gains or other sources that are taxed at a lower rate than employment or business income or that are exempt from tax.
In these situations the court can order that the parent's income be "grossed up" to reflect the lower amount of tax actually paid, as compared to the usual tax rates that are factored into the Guideline table amounts. "Grossing up" normally means determining the amount of pre-tax employment income the person would need to earn at normal tax rates to take home an after-tax amount equal to their actual net income.
The "grossed-up" income is the equivalent pre-tax employment income that a person would need to earn in order to take home a net income that is equivalent to whatever net income they receive on a tax-advantaged basis. The difference between the grossed-up amount and the person's actual income is added to their income (or "imputed") for the purpose of calculating child support.
While the math behind grossing up is challenging, Divorcepath can do it for you. In order to calculate support using grossed-up income, simply add the parent's actual net (after tax) income using the income type "Net Income (for Gross-Up)" and click the "calculate" button. The calculator will add the gross-up amount to the income section (where you can view it):
[screenshot showing gross-up added to income]
The calculator will use the grossed-up income as the Guideline Income for the purpose of calculating support.
[screenshot showing support]
Note that taxes and benefits, as well as net income, will be shown as though the grossed-up income were actual income.
Alternatively, you can add income using a Guideline Income Adjustment to reflect the grossed-up amount. This method adjusts guideline income while still calculating taxes and benefits based on actual income:
[screenshot showing gross-up guideline income adjustment]
To summarize, if you are calculating support for a spouse who pays foreign or Canadian tax at a much lower rate than would apply to employment income, you may need to gross-up their net income for the purpose of determining Guideline Income. There are two different ways to do this in the Divorcepath calculator, depending on whether you want to generate a report showing taxes and benefits using the grossed-up amount or the actual amount.
These issues can be legally complex. If in doubt, consult a family lawyer. If you need help understanding how to gross-up income using the Divorcepath calculator, please let us know - by email or in-app chat.
Child Support for High Income Parents
The Child Support Guideline tables only list child support amounts up to a Guideline income of $150,000. The Guidelines provide a formula for calculating child support payable for incomes above that amount. However, the Guidelines also recognize that for very high incomes, the formula may result in child support payments that exceed the actual needs of the child. For high income earners, section 4 of the Guidelines allows the Court to order a different amount of child support than calculated using the Guideline formula:
Where the income of the spouse against whom a child support order is sought is over $150,000, the amount of a child support order is
(a) the amount determined under section 3; or
(b) if the court considers that amount to be inappropriate,
(i) in respect of the first $150,000 of the spouse's income, the amount set out in the applicable table for the number of children under the age of majority to whom the order relates;
(ii) in respect of the balance of the spouse's income, the amount that the court considers appropriate, having regard to the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of the children who are entitled to support and the financial ability of each spouse to contribute to the support of the children; and
(iii) the amount, if any, determined under section 7.
Where Guideline income exceeds $150,000, the Divorcepath calculator will present a warning to the user:
[screenshot - warning]
However, although the court has discretion to depart from the Guidelines, it does not do so very often. Before ordering a different amount of support, the Court will need to conclude that the Guideline formula amount would be "inappropriate". If the Court is persuaded that the amount would be inappropriate, then it will consider the factors in section 4(b)(ii) listed above and determine an amount.
Courts will typically consider:
- whether the formula amount would result in a "wealth transfer" or alternative form of spousal support instead of serving the purposes of child support;
- the actual financial needs and circumstances of the children and the parents;
- the pre-separation standard of living and post-separation standard of living for both households; and
- the spending patterns of the parties.
In most cases the Courts will simply order the Guideline formula amount. There is a strong presumption that the formula amount is appropriate. However, each case is different and a Court is free to exercise its discretion to order a different amount of support where appropriate.
You can use Divorcepath to generate a support report comparing an agreed amount of support with the Guideline amount. The agreed amount will be used to calculate the net income and monthly cash flow for each parent. Presenting these calculations can be an effective way of advocating for a different amount of support.
To enter an "agreed" amount of support (i.e. an override), use the Options form at the top of the calculator:
[screenshot: override form]
Note that the override amount will be used instead of the Guideline table amount for the purpose of calculating spousal support (if you are calculating both child and spousal support).
Child Support for Low Income Parents
The Guidelines do not require a parent with a Guideline income of less than $12,100 per year to pay child support. Entering income less than this amount in the Divorcepath calculator will result in a warning:
[screenshot low income warning]
However, you may want to consider whether income should be imputed (added to actual income) for the purpose of determining Guideline income, as discussed above.
Also note that sometimes a low-income parent will receive government benefits such as disability or social assistance payments that are non-taxable and would need to be "grossed up" to determine the correct Guideline income. If the "grossed up" income is above the threshold for support, then the parent may be required to pay support even though their actual income is lower than the threshold.
Although the amount of support may be relatively small in these cases, it will still often make sense to pursue an order for child support that can be increased later if and when circumstances change.
The Child Support Guidelines recognize that a different, lower amount of support may be appropriate in some situations. Section 10 of the Guidelines allows the court to depart from the guidelines (usually to order a lesser amount) where a parent would suffer "undue hardship" if support is set at the Guideline amount.
Where a parent claims undue hardship, the court will consider whether there is evidence that paying the table amount will cause "exceptional, excessive or disproportionate hardship", as compared to the ordinary challenge of meeting one's normal financial obligations. In other words, it is not enough that it is difficult to pay support - it must be exceptionally or excessively difficult.
There are many different situations that could give rise to undue hardship. Section 10 of the Guidelines lists some of the types of situations that may lead to a finding of undue hardship:
(a) the spouse has responsibility for an unusually high level of debts reasonably incurred to support the spouses and their children prior to the separation or to earn a living;
(b) the spouse has unusually high expenses in relation to exercising access to a child;
(c) the spouse has a legal duty under a judgment, order or written separation agreement to support any person;
(d) the spouse has a legal duty to support a child, other than a child of the marriage, who is
(i) under the age of majority, or
(ii) the age of majority or over but is unable, by reason of illness, disability or other cause, to obtain the necessaries of life; and
(e) the spouse has a legal duty to support any person who is unable to obtain the necessaries of life due to an illness or disability
The list is not closed or exhaustive and a court can consider whether other circumstances (not listed) would also result in undue hardship if the Guideline amount were to be paid.
In order for the court to award a different amount of support due to undue hardship, section 10(3) of the Guidelines requires that the household of the party claiming undue hardship has a standard of living that is lower than the household of the other parent. In other words, if your standard of living is higher than the other parent it does not matter that paying the Guideline amount of support would cause you exceptional hardship -- the Court will order the Guideline amount anyway.
In order to claim undue hardship the Court will start with the Guideline amount of child support and then consider whether paying it would result in undue hardship for any reason. This means that the party claiming undue hardship must present a child support report that shows the guideline child support amount, as well as why paying it would result in undue hardship.
Divorcepath makes this straightforward. Simply enter all the information required to calculate support, and add your undue hardship claim using the "Undue Hardship" form in the income section of the calculator:
[screenshot of undue hardship section]
The undue hardship claim will be presented in your child support report:
[screenshot from condensed report]
You can download a sample report showing how your undue hardship claim would be presented, or simply try it out yourself using the calculator.
Applying for and Enforcing Child Support Orders and Agreements
Provincial family law statutes apply different criteria to determine eligibility to pay or claim child support. These criteria vary from province to province. You can review the child support eligibility criteria applicable to your province in our province-specific guides:
- Child Support in Alberta
- Child Support in British Columbia
- Child Support in Manitoba
- Child Support in New Brunswick
- Child Support in Newfoundland and Labrador
- Child Support in the Northwest Territories
- Child Support in Nova Scotia
- Child Support in Nunavut
- Child Support in Ontario
- Child Support in Prince Edward Island
- Child Support in Quebec
- Child Support in Saskatchewan
- Child Support in Yukon
In general, the following points apply to provincial family law statutes in all Canadian jurisdictions:
- A child that reaches the age of majority and unilaterally ceases a meaningful relationship with the paying parent may no longer be entitled to support;
- Child support may stop before the age of majority where the child leaves home or marries;
- Child support may continue after the age of majority if the child is unable to withdraw from the care of their parents;
- Step-parents and guardians may be required to pay child support, but the application must be brought within applicable time limits;
- Multiple parents may be obliged to pay support for a child at the same time; and
- Parents are required to pay child support regardless of their relationship with each other (married, common law, independent, etc).
These issues can be relatively complex. Review our province-specific child support guides (see above) for information specific to your jurisdiction.
Enforcing and Collecting Child Support
[NTD introduce enforcement, arrears, collection, etc]
[NTD link to province specific guides]
Varying or Changing the Amount of Child Support
[explain changes to order/amount]
Other Child Support Issues
Income Tax & Child Support
At one point in time, child support was tax deductible to the payor and taxable by the recipient as income. This is no longer the case. All child support payments made under a court order or written agreement are tax-neutral. They are not deductible to the paying parent or taxable income for the recipient parent.
There is a tax deduction available for legal fees to apply for, increase, or enforce a child support order. However, legal fees to defend the claim are not tax deductible.
The Canada Revenue Agency has offered guidance on the taxation of support payments and tax deductions for children for whom support is paid. In short, it can make a difference whether both parties are paying child support or whether only one party pays support to the other:
- personal tax credits for a dependant cannot be claimed by a party that pays support to the other parent;
- where more than one individual pays support for a dependant, someone can claim the tax credit provided the parties agree on who will claim it section 118(5.1) of the Income Tax Act);
- the Canada Child Benefit is to be shared between parents in a shared parenting arrangement, or claimed by the primary parent.
In order to ensure that both parents can claim the children as dependents on their tax returns and share in child tax benefits, in "split" or "shared" parenting cases the agreement or court order for support should specify what child support is to be paid by each parent.
It is possible to structure shared parenting support payments so that parents are paying support to the other, even though the net amount of support is calculated by setting these amounts off against each other. Some lawyers recommend that the parties actually exchange cheques for the full amounts to demonstrate that each party pays child support.
To facilitate this, the Divorcepath child support calculator shows the table amount of support payable by each parent in the child support calculation details section of the results:
[screenshot of child support detail calculation]
The net amount of child support shown is the result of subtracting the recipient parent's table support amount from the paying parent's support amount. It is up to the parties whether to exchange cheques for the table amount, or simply have the payor write one cheque to the recipient for the net amount.
Calculating Tax Credits & Benefits for Children
The eligible dependent tax credit can be manually removed or added in the Divorcepath child support calculator. Similarly, the calculator allows the user to decide which children are claimed by which party for the Canada Child Benefit:
[screenshot of parenting selector]
By default, in the Divorcepath calculator the primary parent will claim the eligible dependent tax credit if they are otherwise eligible to do so. In shared parenting arrangements the parent with the lower income will claim the credit if they are eligible. With respect to the Canada Child Benefit, both parties claim the benefit where parenting is shared, otherwise the benefit is claimed by the party with primary parenting. You should review these credits and benefits and confirm that they are being correctly claimed for your situation, and make any necessary adjustments in the calculator.
Note that changes to the default settings will be noted in any reports generated using the calculator.]
Spousal Support & Child Support
Calculating Child Support Online