How Does Child Support Work and What am I Obligated to Pay?

By Chyanne Sharma, Articled Student, Vancouver

In Canada, child support payments are designed to ensure that children from dissolved marriages or relationships are adequately supported as it is a legal right of the child. Support is determined by a set of calculations that are based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines. This means that a parent cannot determine that they do not have to pay support payments to the other parent. Child support can be claimed under the Divorce Act or Family Law Act, or both. The duty to pay child support typically continues until the child(ren) reach the age of majority (18 or 19 years old depending on the province), but even then, if the child is still a dependent after the age of majority then the right to child support continues. Situations like this may arise if the child attends university, college, or suffers from a disability.

How is Child Support Calculated?

The federal tables determine how much child support is owed from one parent to the other based on factors such as: 

  • Income as an employee
  • Income from owning a business
  • Number of children
  • The province you reside in; and
  • Parenting arrangements

All these variables can complicate the process of calculating child support. For example, let’s consider the income factor; if the payor is an employee, then the line 15000 (formerly, line 150) of their tax return is used to calculate their contribution. However, income is not calculated the same way if the payor is a business owner. The starting point for calculating income would then be to look at the net revenue of the business after expenses but before taxes. It could be argued that some expenses from the business are personal benefits and would be added back to the payor’s income increasing the amount of support available for the child(ren).  The calculation of child support is further complicated when someone earns income from capital gains, is underemployed or earns their income in tax free cash. Child support is often not a straight-forward calculation.

Child-Support Calculator Tool

To assist Canadians with child support calculations, Coach My Case has launched our own child support calculator that can be used anywhere in Canada. Our child support calculator provides support child calculations for parents who receive income from employment and reside anywhere in Canada. It also applies to shared parenting, split parenting, and primary parenting situations.

  Child Support Calculator

However, there is no child support calculator (including our own) that can provide an accurate assessment of child support when a parent is a business owner. There is simply too much discretion when calculating business income under the Child Support Guidelines and we recommend that you consult a family lawyer or legal coach for advice in these situations.

To get started in determining your child support payments, check out the Coach My Case child support calculator and schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced team members who can help guide you through your child support issues.