In Canada, children have a legal right to child support. This means that parents or guardians are required to financially support their children, even in circumstances where one parent or guardian does not see or take care of the children.
If you and your partner are going through a separation or divorce and have children, it is important to keep in mind that child support takes precedent over spousal support.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and responses about child support in BC, and child support guidelines for 2020:
What is child support?
When a couple or spouses separate, usually one parent must make payments to the other parent to help support the children. This financial assistance is called child support.
How does child support work?
Children are entitled to be supported by their parents if:
- They are under 19 years of age; or
- They are 19 years or over, but cannot take care of themselves due to an illness, disability, or another reason such as being a full time student in school.
Who pays child support?
Most of the time, the parent the children live with is entitled to receive child support from the other parent.
If the children spend equal or almost equal time (50-50 parenting time or 40-60 parenting time) with both parents, the parent with the higher income usually has to pay child support.
Parenting time arrangements and custody agreements between parents have a direct effect on payable child support.
- Sole Custody: If one parent has primary care of the children, that parent is inevitably handling the expenses required to raise the children. As such the other parent is required to pay child support.
- Joint Custody: If the children spend equal or almost equal time with both parents, the parent who earns a higher income is to pay child support.
- Split Custody: If both parents each have full care and residency of the children, child support payments are offset by each parent paying the other the lower payment reducing the cost of the higher payment.
How much is child support in BC?
The monthly payable amount of child support in British Columbia is based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines.
Other factors which effect amount payable child support are parenting arrangements and income of each parent.
While the Federal Child Support Guidelines serve as an adequate and reliable guide to determine the amount of payable child support, judges may make orders for a lower amount of payable child support than stated in the guidelines if:
- The court agrees with the payor parent’s claim that the amount of support would cause them undue hardship;
- The payor’s income is over $150,000;
- The child is 19 or over and not in school full time;
- One parent makes a claim for special or extraordinary expenses; or
- The payor is a step-parent.
How is child support calculated?
The amount of monthly payable child support is based on the following four factors:
- How much the payor parent earns;
- How many children the parents have to support;
- How much parenting time each parent has with the children; and
- Where each parent lives.
Our lawyers at Solimano Law can provide you with an estimate of amount of payable child support.
When does child support start?
Depending upon whether the child support is part of a divorce, separation, paternity or other family law litigation may affect when the child support will be effective and how far back any retroactive support may be imposed.
Generally, child support becomes payable upon separation of parents.
When does child support end?
In most cases, child support ends when the child is 19 years or older. The following circumstances could also result in a payor parent not having to pay support for children who are under 19 years old:
- The child gets married;
- The child chooses to leave their parents’ home and there is no history of family violence or difficult living conditions; or
- The child does not want a relation with their parents.
Is child support taxable in BC?
Child support is not currently considered taxable income to the party receiving it and is not deductible by the party paying it.
If you have not made a declaration or claim for child support payments before the current tax year, you should report support payments made or received on your tax return. However, note that the CRA no longer includes child support payments as income or deductions.
Prior to May 1, 1997 both child and spousal support payments were deductible to the payer and taxable to the recipient. The rules for child support changed as of that date and are no longer deductible.
You may be required to claim or deduct support payments for previous court orders, depending on date child support court orders took effect. Child support payments can effect how you report spousal support.
Each family, parent and child have specific circumstances which are to be taken into consideration when assessing a claim for child support. To obtain detailed information regarding child support, please call us and ask for a consultation with our family law lawyer, Niaz Arbabi.
Disclaimer – The information contained herein is of a general nature. It is not intended to be legal advice and it is not intended to address the exact circumstances of any particular individual or entity. No one should rely on or act upon such information without receiving appropriate professional advice and without a thorough examination of their particular situation. Please contact our office if you have any questions with respect to the content of this entry, this website, or our Terms and Conditions .