When a couple with children separates, they might have questions about child support. What is it? Who must pay it? How is the amount calculated?
Definition of Child Support
Child support is money one parent pays to the other parent for the financial needs of children after the parents break up.
By law, both parents must continue to contribute to the needs of children after a separation.
Parent Who Pays Child Support
The parent who doesn’t have custody of the children pays child support to the other parent, even if the parent with custody has the higher income.
A parent might also have to pay child support to the other parent even if the parents have joint custody.
Two Different Support Payment Plans
The Quebec government has basic rules for calculating how much child support one parent must pay the other.
The federal government also has rules for calculating how much child support one parent must pay the other.
Which rules apply?
The Quebec rules on child support apply if both parents live in Quebec.
The federal rules on child support apply if
- a parent is asking for child support during a divorce process, AND
- one parent does not live in Quebec.
Maria and Claudio live in Quebec. They break up. Since Claudio has custody of the children, Maria must pay child support to Claudio.
The Quebec rules on child support apply because both parents live in Quebec.
Heather and Jeremy are married and live in Quebec with their children. They break up. Heather moves back to Vancouver to live with her parents. With Jeremy’s consent, Heather takes the children with her. Jeremy files for divorce. Since he doesn’t have parenting time with the children, he will have to pay child support to Heather.
The federal rules on child support apply in this situation because the parents are getting divorced and Heather does not live in Quebec.
Divorce: Vocabulary Change in the Law
Since March 1, 2021, the Divorce Act no longer uses the terms “custody” or “access”. The law now uses the term “parenting time” to describe a divorced parent’s relationship with a child of the marriage. For more information, see our article Divorce: What Is “Parenting Time” and What to Do When Moving.
Amount of Child Support Payments
Quebec rules: Parents must complete the Child Support Determination Form (also called Schedule I) to calculate the basic amount of child support payments.
Federal rules: Parents should refer to the tables published by the federal government to determine the basic amount of child support payments.