When it comes to calculating child support, every province in Canada defers to the Child Support Guidelines created by the federal government. These guidelines were put in place to ensure that every child benefits from the financial support of both parents.

Before child support can be considered, both parents must agree where the primary residents of the child or children will be, and how much time will be spent with each parent. Once this is decided, you can begin calculating the basic child support amounts.

Calculating Monthly Child Support Payments

There is an Formula that will help you work out the base child support amount. Factors considered for the purpose of this calculation are:

  1. Gross (before-tax) Income for the parent who is paying;
  2. The number of children to be paid for;
  3. The province the paying-parent lives in;
  4. The time sharing arrangement between the parents.

Child Support Calculations for Shared Custody

Calculating the base child support amount when a child lives mostly with one parent is fairly straightforward, only the first 3 factors mentioned above are taken into consideration. However, how is the base payment calculated when there is shared custody, and the children spend about equal time with each parent? When both parents agree that they have the children for about the same amount of time (minimum 40% each), the paying parent is usually the one that earns a higher income annually. This calculation is still made using the prescribed formula, but in this scenario we try to arrive at a Set-Off amount: each parent will first, figure out what they would individually pay in Child Support for the child/ren, then, the difference between the parents’ amounts is what the parent with the higher annual income should be paying the other parent. Please note however, that as a last step, this amount might be further adjusted up or down

Example:
Parent A’s calculation would require them to pay $400 a month in child support if they were the paying parent and Parent B’s calculation would have them paying $525 a month if they were the paying parent (B earns more money annually than A). In this scenario Parent B would need to pay Parent A $125 per month in base child support and Parent A would not be required to pay any support.

Including Additional Expenses to the Child Support Calculation

The base child support amount that is derived using the online calculator does not include any Special and Extraordinary expenses (these are often referred to as Add-on or Section 7 expenses). These are expenses defined as ‘Necessary’ and ‘Reasonable’. Meaning they are in the children’s best interest and are a reasonable expense based on the family’s finances and spending habits prior to separation. Expenses that may be considered as special and extraordinary include:

  • The children’s medical and dental insurance premiums
  • Children’s healthcare needs above what is covered by health insurance (examples are: eye care, orthodontics, counselling, medication)
  • Child care expenses that are incurred by the parent whom the children live with due to work, illness, injury or disability
  • Extracurricular activities (although some judges feel these should not be shared!)
  • Primary and secondary school expenses, perhaps private school fees
  • Post-secondary education expenses for the children

For special and extraordinary expenses, both parents share the cost, a generally used calculation for these expenses is that each parent pays a proportionate portion based on their level of income. To calculate the amounts, add both parent’s annual incomes together, then take each individual income and divide it by the total. This will provide a percentage of the additional expenses each is responsible for.

Example:
Parent A earns $50,000 per year and Parent B earns $85,000 per year. Together their combined income is $135,000 per year. Parent A’s percentage of the total income is 37% and Parent B’s is 63%. Parent A would be responsible for 37% of the expenses, while Parent B would be responsible for 63% of the expenses.

If both parents agree on the terms of the child support (both base amount as well as special and extraordinary expenses) they can have the details outlined in an agreement by a lawyer that specializes in ​family law​, and sign the document in the presence of witnesses. This document suffices as valid even if you do not file it with the courts. If you are unable to come to an agreement on child support totals, you may need to involve the courts to have a decision on the amount ruled on.

We strongly recommend you let us advise you regarding the following commonly asked Child Support & Add-On Expenses questions​:

  • Am I going to get child support for my kids? how much and for how long?
  • Do I need to pay my ex child support? how much and for how long?
  • How do we deal with self-employment income:
    ○   Recipient Q – my ex is self employed, he earns a lot more than what he claims…I am worried about how much support I will get ….what can be done about that?
    ○   Payor Q – I am self employed, my income goes up and down and I sometimes have a lot of expenses…how’s that going to affect my child support payment?
  • My ex lost his job, how will it affect my child support payment?
  • I am earning less than I used to…what can I do about my child support payment?
  • We are sharing the kids, but cannot agree on the child support amount, can a lawyer help us?
  • My ex won’t pay the child support that we agreed to and the court ordered….what can I do about that?
  • My kids are done high school and my ex doesn’t won’t agree to stop the child support payments…what can I do about that?

We strongly recommend you let us advise you regarding the following commonly asked Extraordinary Expenses questions​:

  • What are Extraordinary expenses?
  • I am already paying my ex so much money…are these expenses mandatory?
  • My ex won’t agree to share a certain expense with me, what can I do about that ?
  • We cannot agree as to how to split the expense amount… is a lawyer able to assist? my ex said he will share an expense with me, but wont give me the money…what can I do?
  • My child is old enough to work and pay for some of his expenses, should I be made to pay for him still?

At AGS, we offer comprehensive family law services in Berrie and South Eastern Ontario. If you have questions about child support payments or if you are already paying child support and believe the conditions of your order should be adjusted due to changes in circumstances, give us a call today 705-735-0003 and let us help you.