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, spousal support is calculated based on the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines ("SSAGs"). The SSAGs set out different formulas for calculating spousal support in different situations. This Quickstart guide explains how to easily calculate spousal support under the SSAGs for any situation using the Divorcepath Spousal Support Calculator.
Step 1 - Create a New Support Calculation
First, navigate to the Spousal Support Calculator in Divorcepath.
Next, enter a descriptive name for your calculation for future reference. Your saved calculations will be shown in the dropdown list below the calculation name.
Click "Save" to save your calculation. Your calculation will be automatically saved as you enter information and you can return to your calculation at any time.
[(i) To save your support calculations and profile information you'll need a free Divorcepath account. If you don't already have an account, sign up here. Upgrade for courtroom-ready reports and additional features.]
Step 2 - Background Information
Once you've saved your calculation, complete your profile in the "Background" section of the calculator.
A few tips:
- Your name and ex's name are used to customize your spousal support report. You can use a pseudonym if you're worried about keeping things on the D/L for now.
- Your province or territory of residence are used to determine the correct taxes, benefits and child support table for the calculation. Make sure this is accurate.
- Your age is used to calculate tax credits or benefits you may be eligible for, which can affect the special expenses support calculation.
- The "new partner" toggle should be "yes" if you have re-married or entered a new common-law relationship, which can also affect your taxes and government benefits and the special expenses calculation.
Step 3 - Children
Skip this section and move to Step 4 - Income if you do not have dependant children.
After you've entered background information for yourself and your ex, scroll down to the "Children" section of the calculator and add each child using the "Add Child" button.
For each child, you'll need to:
- Click on the correct parenting arrangement for that child (click "You" or "Ex" if the child spends more than 60% of his or her time with either of you, otherwise click "Shared").
- Make sure the child's date of birth and age are entered correctly.
- Customize your child support report with the child's real name (optional).
- Answer whether your child is a person with a qualified disability (affects tax and benefits relevant to special expenses).
- Enter the child's income, if the child earns regular income from non-parental sources. This is not normally relevant to basic child support but can affect the special expenses sharing calculation, as well as spousal support.
When you've completed the "Children" section, move on to the "Income" section that follows.
Step 4 - Income
Spousal support and child support are calculated using a "Guideline Income" that is based on total income for tax purposes (line 15000 income from your tax return) but with some important differences.
To determine your Guideline Income, start by entering all of the income you would report on your tax return, without deductions.
- Enter your total T4 employment income, if any, as "T4 Employment".
- Enter the total amount of any capital gains less capital losses (but without applying the capital gains deduction) as "Capital Gains".
- Add any pension income, dividend income or other income using the appropriate income type.
- Don't forget to add any CERB payments and CESB benefits as "other income".
Once you've added all sources of income from both parties, consider whether any adjustments need to be made to determine guideline income.
Click on "Guideline Income Adjustments" and then "Add Adjustment" button to add or deduct income from your total income, for the purposes of calculating child support. Guideline income adjustments are a complex topic, and you can read more about them here.
The support calculator also permits you to include a claim of undue hardship in your calculation, to support a request that the court reduce your support payments. Adding an undue hardship claim will not affect the amount of support that is calculated using the calculator, but will be shown on your support report to help you present your case. Read more about undue hardship claims here.
When you've completed the Income section of the calculator, click the "Calculate" button.
Step 5 - Tax Credits & Benefits
The Spousal Support Calculator automatically calculates the government benefits, tax credits, and tax deductions you are eligible for based on the information you have entered. You can review these amounts in the "Tax Credits & Benefits" section of the calculator, after you click the "Calculate" button.
These amounts have a significant impact on most spousal support calculations ($100s or $1000s) as well as the sharing of special child-related expenses.
You may need to add credits, deductions or benefits that you are eligible for but are not automatically applied. You can do this in the premium child support calculator by clicking "Add Tax Credit", "Add Benefit" or "Add Deduction" as applicable.
If your tax situation is very unusual you may need to manually override some of these tax amounts, which you can do by clicking on the amount and entering an override value.
Any manual overrides will be noted in your child support report.
Review your Results
Once you've completed your calculation, review your results in the "Results" section of the calculator.
Your results will show the range of monthly spousal support payments calculated according to the SSAGs based on your inputs (low-range, mid-range, and high-range support). If you have dependant children, the overview will also show the amount of basic child support (s.3 child support) used (if any) as well as any support payable in relation to special expenses (s. 7 child support). These results are summarized in the "Overview" section.
The Spousal Support section provides a breakdown of how spousal support is calculated in each of the SSAG ranges (low, mid and high-range support). Click on the range tab to view a detailed breakdown of the net income calculation used to determine support, including taxes, benefits, and deductions for each scenario. Compare these scenarios to see how support payments will impact your taxes and government benefits.
The Section 3 Child Support section sets out the details of your s. 3 child support calculation, including the number of children for whom table child support has been calculated, and the estimated duration of support payments.
The Special Expenses section provides a breakdown of the s. 7 special expense support calculation, including tax savings or benefits associated with the expense, and the percentage factor used to determine each parent's share of the expense.
The Total Support section estimates your total combined basic child support and special expenses support payments.
You'll also want to check out the Monthly Budget section, which provides a breakdown of the net income of each parent.
Generate a Spousal Support Report
The premium support calculator enables you to create a downloadable, printer-friendly PDF report based on your support calculation, including both spousal support and child support (if applicable). Just click "Generate Report" and select the report type you would like to create.
Divorcepath currently offers the following types of child support reports:
- Detailed Spousal & Child Support Report - a detailed PDF report setting out spousal support, child support and detailed financials for both parties. Includes explanatory notes, charts, calculation details and all inputs used. Suitable for court, mediation, or negotiation. Download a sample detailed spousal & child support report here. If you do not have children, the support report will be for spousal support only (download a without children sample here).
- Condensed Spousal & Child Support Report - a condensed PDF report setting out spousal support, child support and detailed financials for both parties. Includes all calculation details and inputs used but does not include explanatory notes or additional information. This concise format is typically used by legal professionals and courts. Download a sample condensed child support report here. If you do not have children, the support report will be for spousal support only (download a without children sample report here).
Looking for something else? Let us know what types of reporting you'd find useful!
Need More Help?
Although we cannot provide legal advice, we do provide online technical support for premium calculator subscribers. Please feel free to email us or log in to the app and start a chat to ask any questions you might have.
If your question requires legal advice or representation, we can refer you to a family law lawyer to provide further support or advice specific to your situation.