The Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step

How to use this guide


The Federal Guidelines include various rules to help you calculate child support. In this guide, these rules have been divided into eight steps to make it easier for you to apply them. The eight steps are:

  • Step 1: Determine which guidelines apply
  • Step 2: Determine the number of children requiring support
  • Step 3: Determine the parenting time arrangement
  • Step 4: Find the right table
  • Step 5: Calculate annual income
  • Step 6: Find the table amount
  • Step 7: Determine if there are special or extraordinary expenses
  • Step 8: Determine if there is undue hardship

It is possible that not all steps will apply to your situation. For example, Step 7 may not apply if there are no special or extraordinary expenses. Step 8 may not apply if there is no undue hardship. But you may still find it useful to read these sections.

Each step will help you understand how to apply the Federal Guidelines to your specific situation. When going through the steps, you will need to ask yourselves some questions to determine how you prefer to deal with certain issues. You will also need to make decisions based on choices explained in the various steps. In Steps 5, 7 and 8, you may also have to do calculations.

There are examples showing how each step could apply.


The guide includes worksheets to help you with the calculations in Steps 5, 7 and 8:

  • Worksheet 1 to calculate income in Step 5
  • Worksheet 2 to work out the amounts for special and extraordinary expenses in Step 7
  • Worksheet 3 to help compare standards of living described in Step 8

Line-by-line help for each worksheet is also provided.

These worksheets are at the end of the document. You may want to print the worksheets that you need and fill out the parts that apply to your situation.

Child Support Tool

The guide also includes a Child Support Tool to help you compile the information as you go through each step, including the results of any calculations you make.

This tool also provides information and tips that you may find useful in setting up your child support agreement.

The Child Support Tool is meant to be used while you go through the different steps. You may want to print the tool and insert your information directly in it. At the end of each step, there is a recap that will remind you to include your information in the tool.

If you fill out the worksheets and the Child Support Tool, it is a good idea to keep them with all your other documents relating to arrangements you made for your children.

Other tools to help

You can find other tools to help you calculate child support on the Department of Justice website, including:

Other tools may become available. When they do, you will find them in the family law webpages of the Department of Justice Canada.

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