In Quebec and the rest of Canada, whether separated, divorced, divorcing, or never married, both parents have an obligation to provide financial support to their children. The parent who should receive the child support cannot renounce to it as the rules of child support are of public order. There are specific federal and provincial guidelines in place which determine the amount of support payable based on factors such as each parents’ respective income, the custody arrangement, and where the payor lives.
In certain circumstances, it can be more challenging to pinpoint the exact amount that one parent will have to pay to the other, for example, due to fluctuating, seasonal income, undeclared income, and incorporated sheltered income. For that, we have different strategies and tools to determine the most accurate child support that reflects the parents’ respective incomes. Child support deals with how, and in what proportion, each parent will make a contribution. The payments must be made as long as the child is a dependent of the marriage and does not automatically stop when he/she turns 18 years old.
Child support payments in Quebec are intended to cover a child’s day-to-day needs, such as food, housing, clothing, and personal hygiene. According to Quebec Child Support rules, child support payments are not tax-deductible for the payor or taxable for the payee.
Quebec rules: if both parents live in Quebec
When both parents live in Quebec, child support payments are determined using the Quebec model for the determination of child support payments, which sets the basic amount payable. That being said, the parents can agree to a higher amount. In order to determine the amount of child support, the calculation takes both parents’ income and the number of children into account. Under Quebec law, parents have to complete the Child Support Determination Form (also called Schedule I) to calculate the basic amount of child support payments. Child support payments increase on January 1 of each year, based on the percentage increase in the annual indexation.
Also, to be certain that the child support payment continues to reflect each parent’s financial situation, the parents are expected to exchange information about their income once a year in order to recalculate and or modify based on changes and/or fluctuation of income. Under section 17 of the Divorce Act, parties can request a modification of child support or cancellation if there is a change of circumstance that has arisen since a judgment was rendered in their file. For example, if one of them lost their job, has new employment, is on disability, etc.
Federal rules: in a case of divorce where one of the parents does not live in Quebec
In a case of divorce where one of the parents does not live in Quebec, parents need to use the tables published by the federal government to determine the basic amount of child support payments, known as the Federal Child Support Guidelines. The amount of child support is determined on the basis of the number of children, the province or territory where the paying parent lives, and the paying parent’s gross annual income.
Special expenses are paid in proportion of the parents’ respective income, whether applying the federal or provincial table for the calculation of child support, i.e. if parent 1 earns $50,000 and parent 2 earns $70,000, parent 1 will pay 42% of special expenses and parent 2 will pay 58% of special expenses. Special expenses are expenses such as private school, swimming lessons, cheerleading, ski lessons, karate, etc.
Before registering for an activity, each parent is to consult with the other in order to obtain the other parent’s consent. If one parent refuses to pay and the other enrolls the child nonetheless, the enrolling parent would then be expected to cover 100% of the cost. Parents should try to maintain the same activities that existed prior to the separation and should not unreasonably withhold consent.
At Sheri M. Spunt Avocats, our experienced family lawyers will help you prepare all the necessary forms and documentation. We will take care of all of the calculations and modifications for support payments.