The Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step

Step 1: Determine which guidelines apply

Child support guidelines in most provinces and territories are a lot like the Federal Guidelines (except in Quebec), but there may be some differences. You can find information about provincial and territorial guidelines on the website of your provincial or territorial government.

In this first step, you will determine if federal, provincial or territorial laws apply in your situation.

In Canada, the federal, provincial and territorial governments share responsibility for family law. Some child support guidelines are under federal law, while others are under provincial or territorial laws.

If you are divorced or have applied for a divorce

The Federal Guidelines apply unless you both live in a “designated” province. There are three designated provinces: Manitoba, New Brunswick and Quebec. These provinces have made arrangements with the Government of Canada to use their own guidelines in divorce cases when both parents live there.

If there is no divorce

No matter where you live in Canada, provincial or territorial guidelines apply if:

  • you were never married to each other; or
  • you are married and have separated, but neither of you has applied for a divorce.

You may have already dealt with child support issues under provincial or territorial laws before making an application under the Divorce Act. You may want to consult a lawyer to advise you in this situation.

The chart below may help to clarify which child support guidelines apply in your situation.

If you are divorced or have applied for a divorce and… Then…

you both live in any Canadian province or territory other than Manitoba, New Brunswick or Quebec

Federal Guidelines apply.

you both live in Manitoba, New Brunswick or Quebec

provincial guidelines apply.

you live in different provinces or territories, even if one or both are designated

Federal Guidelines apply.

one of you lives in Canada and the other lives in a different country

Federal Guidelines generally apply if you divorce under Canada’s Divorce Act. In some cases, the laws of the other country may apply. You may want to consult a lawyer.

If you and the other parent… Then…

were never married to each other and you both live in Canada

provincial or territorial guidelines apply.

are married and have separated but are not divorcing or have already resolved child support under provincial or territorial laws

provincial or territorial guidelines apply.

Cho and Niral

Cho and Niral have decided to end their marriage and get a divorce. They and their two children, Vincent and Isi, all live in Manitoba. Since Manitoba is a designated province and both Cho and Niral live there, Manitoba’s child support guidelines apply.

Sacha and Gaby

Sacha and Gaby have been married for 10 years. They have one child, Magda. Things are not going well in their relationship. In fact, they have been living apart for some time. Sacha lives in New Brunswick with Magda. Gaby has moved to Nova Scotia for work. They have decided to divorce. Since they live in different provinces, they apply the Federal Guidelines to determine the amount of support for Magda.

Recap

You should now know which child support guidelines apply in your situation. You may want to write this down in your Child Support Tool, in section 2.

Even if provincial or territorial guidelines apply in your situation, you may still find the information in this guide useful.

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