The Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step

Step 6: Find the table amount

The amount in the table is the starting point. As will be explained in Step 7 and in Step 8, there may be an additional amount if there are special or extraordinary expenses or the amount may change if there is undue hardship.

You have now determined how many children are being supported (Step 2), what table or tables you need to use (Step 4), and what income the amount of child support will be based on (Step 5).

Step 6 explains how to find the table amount that matches your income and the number of children being supported.

You can use the tables in the Federal Guidelines or you may find it easier to use the Simplified Tables or the Online Lookup. The Department of Justice created the simplified tables and the Online Lookup to make it easier to estimate a child support amount. However, the tables in the Federal Guidelines are the only official tables.

The basic child support amount generally depends on your parenting arrangements.

Sole custody

Use the federal table for the province or territory where the paying parent lives. On that table, find the amount of support that matches the paying parent’s income and the number of children being supported.

Charles and Brigitte

When Charles moved to Manitoba for a new job, his wife, Brigitte, decided to stay in Ontario with their three children. Their marriage had been in trouble for a while, and after a year of living apart, they decided to divorce. They agreed that the children should continue living in Ontario with Brigitte and that Charles would pay child support based on the federal tables. Since Charles and Brigitte live in different provinces, they use the federal table for Manitoba, where Charles lives, to determine the basic amount of child support.

Charles earns $45,000 per year. The table shows that the basic amount of child support for three children based on that income is $816 per month.

Split custody

You will each need to check the table for the province or territory where you live to find out how much support you would pay for the children in the other parent’s custody.

Once you have found the table amount that you would each pay, subtract the lower amount from the higher amount.

Raj and Isha

Raj and Isha have three children: a 14-year-old daughter named Dhara, a 12-year-old son named Ajay, and a 10-year-old son named Amir. The entire family was living in Prince Edward Island. But when Raj and Isha decided to divorce, Isha accepted a job in Nova Scotia.

Dhara is a very talented musician and wants to make that her career. Raj and Isha decide that she would have better access to the training she needs in Halifax. So they agree that Dhara will move to Nova Scotia and live with Isha. They also agree that Ajay and Amir will stay in Prince Edward Island with Raj. In other words, Isha will have sole custody of one child, Dhara, while Raj will have sole custody of two children, Ajay and Amir, for child support purposes.

They use the table for Nova Scotia to find out how much support Isha would have to pay for the two children living with Raj. It shows that, based on her income of $27,000 per year, Isha would pay $393 per month.

They use the table for Prince Edward Island to find out how much support Raj would have to pay for the one child living with Isha. It shows that, based on his income of $23,000 per year, he would have to pay $173 per month.

Then they subtract the lower amount from the higher amount.

Isha’s monthly payment: $393
Raj’s monthly payment: - $173
Difference: $220

Isha will pay Raj $220 per month.

Shared custody

If you share custody of your children, it does not mean that no child support is needed.

If you share custody, the rules for calculating child support are a bit different. You need to consider the amount in the tables that each of you would pay for those children if the other parent had sole custody. But you also need to consider:

  • the increased cost of shared custody; and
  • the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of each parent and child.

The Federal Guidelines allow some discretion about how to weigh all these factors to determine an appropriate child support amount. Below is just one example of how you may determine a child support amount if you share custody.

Kaya and Peter

Kaya and Peter both live in Nunavut. Their relationship is not working and they have decided to divorce. They have agreed to share custody of their two young daughters, eight-year-old Paj and nine-year-old Anik. Kaya earns $25,000 while Peter earns $35,000 per year.

To determine a support amount, they look at the table for Nunavut to find out the amount each of them would pay to the other parent if the other parent had sole custody of both children. Based on their incomes, the table shows that Kaya would pay $391 per month and Peter would pay $547 per month for two children.

Next, they decide to subtract the lower amount from the higher amount.

Peter’s monthly payments: $547
Kaya’s monthly payments: - $391
Difference: $156

Kaya and Peter then look at the expenses they each expect to have to pay while the girls are spending time with them. They find that Kaya will have to pay for more expenses than Peter. They agree that it is reasonable and fair for Peter to pay an extra $20 per month to help cover those expenses because he earns more and can take on a greater part.

They agree that the amount of child support that Peter will pay each month to support Paj and Anik will be $156 + $20 = $176.

Income over $150,000

The child support tables only show an amount for the first $150,000 of income. As explained in Step 5, you have two choices for determining how much child support should be paid on the portion of income over $150,000:

  • you can multiply the amount of income over $150,000 by the percentage shown in the table for the province or territory where the paying parent lives; or
  • you can agree on an additional amount of support based on the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of your children and your financial ability to contribute.

Add the table amount for the first $150,000 of annual income to the amount determined for the portion of income over $150,000 to get the basic child support amount.

Alex and Marie

Alex and Marie live in Alberta. They have an 11-year-old daughter named Zoe. When Alex and Marie decided to live apart and divorce, they agreed that Zoe would live with Alex and that Marie would pay child support.

Marie earns $175,000 per year. In Alberta, the basic amount of child support that someone with an income of $150,000 would have to pay for one child is $1303.00 per month.

Alex and Marie decide to use the percentage shown in the table for Alberta to determine how much additional support Marie should pay on the portion of income over $150,000. The percentage for one child in Alberta is 0.90%:

  • $175,000 - $150,000 = $25,000 (portion of income over $150,000)
  • $25,000 x 0.0090 = $225 (support payable on income over $150,000)
  • $1303 + $225 = $1528 (combined total)

Assuming there are no other expenses, Marie will pay $1528 per month to Alex to support Zoe.

Recap

You have now determined the basic table amount for the support of your children. You may want to include the relevant information in section 7 of your Child Support Tool.

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