The Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step

Additional information

You can find many of the documents referred to in this section on the Department of Justice Canada’s Family Law webpages.

Child support is the right of the child

You cannot refuse to pay child support because the other parent will not let you see your children. And you cannot refuse to let the other parent see the children because that parent is not paying child support.

As parents, you are both responsible for the support of your children and for ensuring that their best interests come first. Even if you separate or divorce, that responsibility continues. It is important for your children that they not be put in the middle of any conflict you may have with each other and that you continue to protect them from hardship.

Once child support is set by an agreement or an order, you both have the legal obligation to comply with the terms of these documents. If you don’t pay support, federal, provincial and territorial laws set out a variety of tools to enforce support.

Changing an agreement or order

No support agreement or order can plan for everything that can happen in life. For example, your income may change, or special or extraordinary expenses may not be the same as they were when you first set up your agreement. At some point, you may need to change your support order or agreement to make sure that it remains fair. (See section 13 in the Child Support Tool for additional information.)

You can change a written agreement by yourselves if you both agree to the changes. If you find it difficult to agree, family justice services such as mediation may be able to help you.

If you have a support order from a court, only a judge can change it. A judge can base the revised order on an agreement between you if it seems fair and reasonable in your situation. If there is no agreement, or if your agreement does not seem fair and reasonable, the judge would use the applicable child support guidelines to revise the order.

Provincial child support services

Provincial child support services are administrative services that calculate and/or recalculate child support amounts.

The Department of Justice Canada website has information on where provincial child support services are available and who can use them. You may also find information on the website of your provincial or territorial government.

Some services can only work with court orders, not written agreements.

Enforcing support

The provinces and territories are responsible for enforcing child support. If you need help to enforce an existing support order or a written support agreement, contact your provincial or territorial Maintenance Enforcement Program. You may also find helpful information in the Enforcing Support section on the Department of Justice Canada website.

Who you need to notify about changes

If you are enrolled with a provincial child support service or a Maintenance Enforcement Program in your province or territory, it is important to notify them of any changes to the agreement or order. You can find contact information for the provincial and territorial Maintenance Enforcement Programs and Provincial Child Support Services on the Department of Justice Canada website.

If you have more questions

The Department of Justice Canada family law webpages have links to a variety of resources that may help you deal with family law issues, including child support. The webpages also include information about provincial and territorial family justice services, enforcement services and services that refer to legal advisers and Public Legal Education and Information (PLEI) organizations.

You may prefer to ask your questions directly to an information officer. The Department of Justice Canada has a Family Law Information Line at (613) 946-2222 (National Capital Region) or 1-888-373-2222. It is important to note that government officials at the Department of Justice Canada cannot help resolve personal legal issues or provide legal advice to members of the public.

If you don’t have access to the Internet or if you can’t find the information you need, the Department of Justice Canada may be able to help you by providing general information or by telling you where to get the information.

You can also write to the Department at:

Department of Justice Canada
284 Wellington St.
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H8

If you prefer to ask your questions directly to an information officer by e-mail, you can send them to infofam@justice.gc.ca. Remember, other people can also help.

A lawyer referral service or a legal aid office can help you get legal advice—sometimes for no fee or at a reduced fee. You can also contact a provincial or territorial public legal education and information (PLEI) organization. PLEI organizations provide information to the public about many different areas of law, including family law. You can find government-based resources by consulting the Directory of Government-Based Family Justice Services on the Department of Justice Canada family law pages.

If you have questions about taxation and support payments, you may find useful information, as well as Form P102, on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website. You can also contact the CRA by calling 1-800-959-8281.

To find out more about the benefit and credit programs the CRA administers, visit the Child and Family Benefits web page.

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