Separation and Divorce: Child Support
How is child support calculated?
In most cases, the amount of child support paid is based on the government's Child Support Guidelines. These Guidelines say that child support is usually made up of both:
- a basic monthly amount, called the table amount
- an amount for other expenses, called special or extraordinary expenses
The Child Support Guidelines have a Child Support Table for each province and territory. The Table shows the basic monthly amounts of child support to cover expenses like clothes, food, and school supplies. The basic amount is also called the table amount.
The table amount is based on the gross annual income of the payor parent and the number of children they have to support. Gross annual income means total income before paying taxes and most other deductions. It is usually the amount on line 150 of the payor parent's income tax return.
In simple cases, the amount of child support paid is based on the Table. In more complicated cases, the amount of child support paid is based on the Table and on other things.
The Child Support Table for each province and territory is different. If both parents live in Ontario, the Ontario Table applies. If the payor parent lives in another Canadian province or territory, the Table for that province or territory applies. If the payor parent lives outside of Canada and the other parent in Ontario, the Ontario Table applies.
To get a copy of the Child Support Table for Ontario call 1-888-373-2222. Or visit the Department of Justice Canada's website at www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fl-df and click on "Child Support" to find Tables for each province and territory and an online "Look-up" tool that will calculate the amount.
Here are some examples of monthly child support payments based on the Table for Ontario:
Special or extraordinary expenses
As well as the table amount, the Child Support Guidelines say that the parents might also have to help pay certain other expenses. These are called special or extraordinary expenses. Some examples of these expenses are:
- child-care fees, such as daycare, to allow the parent who looks after the child to go to work or school
- the part of medical and dental insurance premiums the other parent pays to cover their child
- their child's health expenses, such as orthodontics, prescriptions, eyeglasses, counselling, or hearing aids
- reasonable and extraordinary expenses to meet the child's particular education needs, such as tutors or private school fees
- expenses for post-secondary education
- reasonable and extraordinary expenses for the child's extracurricular activities, such as competitive sports classes, that are not covered by the table amount
An expense may be a special or extraordinary expense, if it is both:
- reasonable which means that the parents can afford it, and
- necessary for the child's best interests. For example, the expense was part of the family's spending pattern before the parents separated.
In most cases, both parents contribute to special expenses based on how much they make. So, if both parents make roughly the same amount of money, they split the cost of special expenses equally. If a child pays some of their own expenses, that amount is subtracted before the parents divide the expense.