Family LawChild Support

From Basic Calculations to Complex Scenarios

Family Law - Child Support

Child Support & Complex Scenarios

Child support is money paid by one parent to the other for the support of the children. The amount of child support to be paid depends on the incomes of the parties, the number of children, and the parenting arrangements in place. The Federal Child Support Guidelines set the child support laws for the amounts of child support to be paid in any given situation. 

Child Support Payments

Generally, there are two basic types of child support, monthly child support payments and child support for special expenses. Monthly child support is calculated by determining the incomes of the parties and the number of children. If the parents are employees, calculating child support should be relatively simple and we have a free online support calculator that can assist with this.

Self-Employed Parents

When one parent is self-employed or earns income through corporate dividends or shares, calculating child support can become more complex. This is due to the presence of business expenses, benefits, perks, and tax deductions that can alter their reported income. These factors may create a skewed picture of the actual disposable income available to support their children.

International Income

Moreover, if one of the parents lives in another country where they are not taxed at the same rate that they would be in Canada, child support can be increased to reflect this reduced tax. In all of these situations, the income in a parent’s tax return may not accurately reflect the income that should be available for child support.

Child Support for Special Expenses

Special expenses include things like childcare, healthcare costs including dental work, school expenses and extracurricular activities. However, special expenses must be reasonable based on the needs of the children and the financial circumstances of the parents. Child support for special expenses is paid proportionately based on the incomes of both parents. This means that if the parents are both making the same income they both pay 50% of these expenses, but if their incomes are different the percentages will change.

Parenting Arrangements and Child Support

Who pays and who receives child support is based on the parenting arrangements. If one of the parents has the children over 60% of the time they will receive the child support. However, if the children are on a shared parenting schedule, anywhere between 60% with one parent and 40% with the other, child support may be based on a set-off. In a set-off the amount of child support payable by each parent is calculated and the parent who would pay more pays the difference to the other.

Support for Adult Children

Child support can also continue for a child who is over 18 or 19 but who is still dependent on their parents because they are attending University or because they have a disability. In these situations the amounts that are set out in the Federal Child Support Guidelines may not be appropriate and child support may be determined by looking at other factors. These factors may include how much income the child is earning, any scholarships and bursaries available to the child, any RESP’s available, whether the child is living at home or at University, the cost of the child's tuition and living expenses, and the relationship between the child and the parents.

Additional Resources


Our Approach to Child Support Cases

Sometimes child support is straightforward but often calculating child support can be very complicated. At Crossroads Law, our family lawyers are experienced in determining child support in difficult situations. We have helped many parents sort through complex income determination and for our high net-worth clients we often consult with accountants and tax specialists. We have also helped many parents with international child support cases.

For a FREE initial consultation on child support, please reach out to us.

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Significant life changes like income variation or custody shifts can warrant modifications to existing child support agreements or orders.

In Canada, child support covers extracurricular expenses categorized under Section 7. These include activities, education, and medical costs, shared proportionately between parents based on their financial situation.

Child support in Canada is calculated using Federal Guidelines based on income and custody, with additional considerations for business owners' income.

Parents must pay child support until the child is 18 in Alberta and 19 in BC, with exceptions for illness, disability, or if the child is pursuing higher education.

When a parent defaults on child support, the other parent can seek resolution through direct contact, mediation, or enforce payment via legal means and provincial agencies.

Child Support

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Child Support Legal Resources

When Child Support Feels Overwhelming: Understanding Undue Hardship in Canada

In Canada, parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children, even after a divorce or separation.

How Bankruptcy Impacts Child Support, Spousal Support, and Costs in Family Law Cases

As family lawyers, we sometimes encounter questions about the impact of bankruptcy on child support, spousal support, and cost awards in family law matters.

Non-recurring Gains and Determination of Income for the Purposes of Calculating Child Support

In many ways, the Federal Child Support Guidelines have simplified the determination of monthly child support payments and the proportion of extraordinary expenses each parent is responsible for paying.