This article answers frequently-asked questions about child support, from applying for child support to when this support comes to an end.
Who has to pay child support?
Only parents are responsible for supporting their children financially.
In rare cases, a new spouse who marries a parent might have to pay child support. This might be the case if the new spouse marries the child’s parent, divorces the child’s parent and acted as a parent to the child.
Ben and Marie have two children. They divorced when the children were very young. Marie is now married to Jack. Jack treats Marie’s children as if they were his own, and they even call him “Dad.” He’s the only father they know because they never see Ben.
If Marie and Jack get divorced, Jack might have to pay child support for Marie’s two children.
To decide whether a parent’s new spouse acted as a parent to children, the judge considers the children’s opinions and whether the new spouse intended to be responsible for the children.
More specifically, the judge looks at these factors:
- the children’s involvement in the extended family of the new spouse, the way biological children would be
- the children’s relationship to the biological parent who is not involved in their lives
- whether the new spouse financially supports children who are not his or her own
- whether the new spouse disciplined the children the way a biological parent would
- how the new spouse explained his or her relationship with the children to other people
Important! This special case only applies to someone who marries a parent, not to someone who lives in a common-law (unmarried) relationship with a parent.
How do you apply for child support?
There are two ways:
- The two parents can reach an agreement and then have it approved by a special court clerk. This clerk has some of the same powers as a judge. An agreement does not have to be approved in this way, but approval has some advantages. For example, with an approved agreement, Revenu Québec can administer the support payments. (See below for more information about this.)
- Either parent can go to court to ask for child support. Parents can hire a lawyer to file this request, called an application, or they can do it on their own. The type of application to be filed depends on the parents’ situation:
Divorcing Parents Who Agree on Child Support
They can make a Joint Application for Divorce on a Draft Agreement. A brochure with the forms to fill out is available through the website Publications du Québec.
Divorcing Parents Who Do Not Agree
They can apply for child support during the divorce procedures. This request is normally made using an application for a safeguard order and provisional measures.
Separating Common-Law (Unmarried) Parents Who Agree on Child Support
They can make a joint request for a decision on custody, visiting rights and child support. A brochure with the forms to fill out is available on the website of Publications du Québec.
Separating Common-Law Parents Who Do Not Agree
They can make a request using an application for child support.
How much child support can my child get?
Child Under 18
The amount of child support is based one of two forms, depending on the situation:
- the Quebec Child Support Determination Form
- the child support tables published by the federal government
Child 18 and Over
First, it must be determined whether the adult child is entitled to child support.
Next, the way child support is calculated depends on who applies for it – the child or the parent on the child’s behalf. You can read our article on this topic to learn more.
How can I make sure that the child support will be paid?
When a court makes a child support decision, or when the parents agree on child support and their agreement is approved by a special court clerk, Revenu Québec takes charge of the child support file.
Revenu Québec manages child support payments. Among other things, Revenu Québec collects support from the person who has to pay it and gives it to the person who is supposed to receive it.
My financial situation has deteriorated. Do I still have to pay child support?
As a general rule, you still have to pay child support because this is what the court decision says. Revenu Québec can’t change or cancel the collection of support payments unless you have a new judgment.
However, you can agree with the other parent to change or cancel the child support you are paying according to the applicable rules and your new financial situation. You can submit your agreement to a special court clerk for approval. This approval is called “homologation”. A homologated agreement has the same value as a decision by a judge.
To make things easier, you can use the Homologation Assistance Service offered in legal aid offices. For a reasonable fee, a lawyer will prepare all the documents and mail them to the special court clerk for you.
If you can’t reach an agreement with the other parent, you can go to court and ask a judge to change the child support payments based on your new financial situation.
You can also request a change using the new SARPA service (Service administratif de rajustement des pensions alimentaires pour enfants). You can access this service through the Internet. The service lets you change a court decision that set or approved support payments for a child under 18 years old, all without going back to court. The application fee for SARPA is 50$.
My son just turned 18. Can I stop paying his child support?
No. Turning 18 doesn’t put an end to the court decision ordering child support or to a parent’s obligation to pay support.
If you want to stop paying, you need one of two things:
- a new court decision
- a new agreement with the other parent, approved by a special court clerk
The parent who pays child support can contact a lawyer to help determine whether the child still needs child support and whether it’s a good idea to ask for the support payments to be decreased or cancelled.
The other parent is refusing to help me out financially. Can I stop her from seeing the children until she pays?
No. You can’t use the child to force the other parent to pay support. You can go to court to get her to make child support payments.
The other parent wants me to sign a document saying that I won’t ask for any money for the children. Is this legal?
No, because support is paid by a parent to benefit the child.
Even if you sign it, a document like this won’t stop you from asking for support payments for the children.
The other parent received a big raise a few months ago. Can I ask for an increase in child support going back to when the other parent got the raise?
Nothing is stopping you from asking for an increase in child support that goes back to when the other parent got the raise.
However, special factors apply to these types of cases.
When can I stop paying the child support ordered in a court decision?
You can stop paying child support in these cases:
- if the child dies
- on the date mentioned in the court decision, if there is one
- if there’s a new court decision that cancels child support (either a decision of a judge or the approval by the special court clerk of an agreement between the parents)
If the parent paying child support dies, the child can claim support from the parent’s estate. (An estate is the property of someone that is left over after death. In Quebec law, the legal term for an estate is a “succession”.)