The Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step

About the worksheets and line-by-line help

This guide provides three worksheets to help you with calculations you may need to make to estimate a child support amount:

  • Worksheet 1: Calculate your annual income
  • Worksheet 2: Determine the amount for special or extraordinary expenses
  • Worksheet 3: Compare households’ standards of living

There is also line-by-line help explaining how to fill out each worksheet.

Who these worksheets apply to

The line-by-line help often refers to “you,” meaning one or both of the parents. But you may also need to complete worksheets for other people, such as your children, if you need their income to determine an amount. In such cases, you should fill out one worksheet per person.

You may not need to use all of the worksheets

Use only the ones that apply to your situation. For example, you would use Worksheet 2 only if you determined in Step 7 of the guide that there were special or extraordinary expenses.

Use only the parts of the worksheet that apply to you

Each worksheet has many lines to cover various possibilities. Some of the lines may not apply to your situation, so you will not need to fill them out.

Keep all documents together

It is a good idea to keep the worksheets you fill out with other documents that relate to arrangements you made for your children, such as your final child support agreement. Keeping records of your calculations and of the decisions you made during that process can be helpful if, for example, you need or want to change your agreement later on.

You can look up definitions of income tax terms

The worksheets often refer to income tax terms used by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and to specific lines found in your T1 Income Tax and Benefits Return (which is referred as “return” in these worksheets) or your notice of assessment or notice of reassessment. You may want to refer to the General Income Tax and Benefit Guide located on the CRA’s website if you are not sure what those terms mean. You can also contact the CRA’s individual income tax enquiries line at 1-800-959-8281.

In this document

Your "Total income" is the number found on line 150 of your T1 General form issued by the CRA. However, please note that total income is just the first step in determining the "annual income" amount used to calculate child support under the Federal Guidelines.

Remember, other people can help

If you have difficulties with the worksheets (or with any other child support issue), you may want to get help from a third party, such as a family law lawyer or an accountant. Provinces and territories also have family justice services that could help you or point you in the right direction. If you cannot agree on certain issues, you can try using alternative dispute resolution mechanisms or ask a judge to make the decisions for you. Going to court, however, can be costly, time-consuming, and stressful for everyone. It is generally best for everyone—especially children—when parents can agree.

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