Child Support Obligations
The guiding principle of Canada’s child support law is that children should continue to benefit from the financial means of both parents just as they would if the parents were still together. Therefore, if you are divorced or separated from the other parent, your child is entitled to child support.
The obligation to pay child support for married couples comes from section 15.1 of the Divorce Act, and for unmarried parents and guardians from section 147 of the Family Law Act. Once it is determined that there is an obligation to pay child support, the amount payable is determined by section 150 of the Family Law Actwith reference to The Federal Child Support Guidelines.
The objectives set out in section 1 of The Federal Child Support Guidelines are: (a) to establish a fair standard of support for children that ensures that they continue to benefit from the financial means of both spouses after separation; (b) to reduce conflict and tension between spouses by making the calculation of child support orders more objective; (c) to improve the efficiency of the legal process by giving courts and spouses guidance in setting the levels of child support orders and encouraging settlement; and (d) to ensure consistent treatment of spouses and children who are in similar circumstances.
Child Support Calculations
Generally, child support payments are made by parent or guardian (the “payor”) to the parent or guardian who bears the primary responsibility of a child’s expenses (the “recipient”). Stepparents may also have a duty to provide child support if the stepparent contributed to the support of the child for at least one year and an application to the court is made within one year after the stepparent last contributed to the support of the child.
The amount payable is determined by the payor’s income, and set by The Federal Child Support Guidelines. The Federal Child Support Guidelines contain a set of tables that match the payor’s income and the number of children in order to determine the amount payable. For a ballpark starting point, you may reference the following calculator:
Caution – the numbers provided are from an external source, are not exact, and may vary significantly due to some exceptions and circumstances of each case.
Child Support Aggrements
Parents may make agreements between each other regarding the amount of child support to be paid, however, such agreements have very strict requirements and are not easily upheld. Agreements are permitted by Section 15.1(5) of the Divorce Act and section 148 of the Family Law Act. These sections of law require that the agreements regarding child support are made after separation or when the parties are about to separate, and that such agreements adequately provide for the child, or else the court will toss the agreement away and refer to The Federal Child Support Guidelines.
Child support is the right of the child. As a result, it cannot be bartered away by one or both parents. The court has jurisdiction to determine what is in the child’s best interests and, therefore, can make an order of child support different from that set out in the parents’ agreement where the court finds that the contractual support amount is inadequate. (see Hunble v. MacKay, 2012 BCSC 1285 (CanLII) at para. 20.).
Laws are subject to change. This website’s contents are not intended as legal advice and should not be relied upon. You should consult a lawyer before applying any law to any case or factual circumstances.