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Child support is money paid by one parent or guardian to the other to help cover the expenses associated with raising the children. The amount of child support payable is usually fixed according to tables contained in the Child Support Guidelines, which sets support according to the number of children and the income of the person paying support. While there are some exceptions to the Guidelines, the amount of child support payable is almost always set using the tables.
This section discusses the basics of child support, and child support orders or agreements under the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act. It talks about how to get a child support order inside and outside of British Columbia. It also looks at the income tax implications of child support, what happens when someone entitled to receive child support goes on social assistance, and the rights of children to claim child support. Child support for adult children is also discussed.
After parents separate, they usually find that their individual financial situations have gotten worse. Instead of the family income paying for one rent or mortgage payment, one phone bill, one electricity bill, one gas bill, one cable bill and so forth, the same amount of income must now cover two rent payments, two phone bills, two electricity bills, two gas bills and two cable bills. If a child lives mostly with one parent, that parent will inevitably wind up paying for more of the child's expenses for things like school fees, food and clothing, as well as accommodation. Child support is intended to help distribute the cost associated with raising a child between the child's parents and other people who may be responsible for supporting the child, including stepparents.
Child support is a payment made by one parent or guardian, the payor, to the other parent or guardian, the recipient, to help meet the costs the recipient bears paying for the child's needs. The payment of child support is intended to maintain or improve the child's living conditions. Child support is not a supplement to spousal support; it's money that is paid for the benefit of the child, not the parent with whom the child lives. Of course, there's often some overlap between the recipient's expenses and the child’s expenses, like the cost of groceries and the cost of utilities.
It's important to understand that child support is not a fee paid in exchange for time with the child. With some exceptions, such as child support for children over 19 and circumstances where the child's time is being shared equally or almost equally, child support is not related to the payor's parenting time or contact.
Child support is payable on the principle that all of a child's parents have a legal duty to financially contribute to the child's upbringing. The simple fact of being a parent triggers this obligation, even if the payor never sees the child and has no role in the child's life. Child support can also be payable by stepparents and people who are guardians and not parents, although the rules are slightly different for these people and their obligation is often affected by a biological parent's obligation.
An order for child support can be made under section 15.1 of the federal Divorce Act or section 149 of the provincial Family Law Act. Parents can agree on child support in a separation agreement, and arbitrators can make awards about child support. No matter what, the amount of support should, with only a few exceptions, satisfy the requirements of the federal Child Support Guidelines.
The Guidelines contain a series of tables, particular to each province and territory, which set out the amount payable based on the payor's income and the number of children for whom support is being paid. There are some exceptions to this basic rule; they are described later in this chapter. The tables were most recently updated on 22 November 2017. For most people, the changes resulted in a small increase in the amount of child support payable.
Both the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act require the court and parents or guardians to give child support priority over spousal support when both child support and spousal support might be payable. In other words, if there isn't enough money to pay both, child support will take priority. Going one step further, both child support and spousal support in most cases take priority over debt payments and other expenses, and both obligations survive the payor's bankruptcy.
The Divorce Act
Child support can be ordered under section 15.1 of the Divorce Act, but only if:
- the parents, or the parent and a step-parent, are or were married to each other, and
- at least one of the parents, or a step-parent, has lived in the province for at least one year immediately before a court proceeding started.
A claim for orders under the Divorce Act can only be started in the Supreme Court. The Provincial Court cannot deal with claims under the Divorce Act.
Parents who can't apply for child support under the Divorce Act can apply for child support under the Family Law Act either in the Provincial Court or Supreme Court.
Qualifying for child support
In the Divorce Act, children are referred to as children of the marriage, and a child must fall within the Act's definition of "child of the marriage" to be eligible for support. There are a couple of important definitions in section 2(1) of the act that help determine whether a child is a child of the marriage:
"age of majority," in respect of a child, means the age of majority as determined by the laws of the province where the child ordinarily resides, or, if the child ordinarily resides outside of Canada, eighteen years of age;
"child of the marriage" means a child of two spouses or former spouses who, at the material time,
(a) is under the age of majority and who has not withdrawn from their charge, or
(b) is the age of majority or over and under their charge but unable, by reason of illness, disability or other cause, to withdraw from their charge or to obtain the necessaries of life;
As well, section 2(2) of the act says that:
For the purposes of the definition "child of the marriage" in subsection (1), a child of two spouses or former spouses includes
(a) any child for whom they both stand in the place of parents; and
(b) any child of whom one is the parent and for whom the other stands in the place of a parent.
Taken together, these definitions mean that:
- child support can be owing from an adoptive parent, as well as a biological parent,
- child support can be owing from stepparents (spouses who "stand in the place of a parent"),
- child support is payable until a child reaches the age of majority in the province where the child lives, age 19 in British Columbia, and
- child support can be payable after a child reaches the age of majority if the child is still financially dependent on their parents.
The Divorce Act says that an adult child can continue to be eligible for child support as long as they cannot "withdraw from the charge" of their parents. The two main reasons why a child might not be able to withdraw are because the child is going to university, or because the child has a serious, chronic illness that prevents them from becoming self-supporting. The factors a court will consider in deciding whether an adult child's academic career qualifies them as a "child of the marriage" often include:
- the age of the child,
- whether the academic program is full- or part-time, and whether the program is connected to the child's future employment,
- the child's ability to contribute to their own support through part-time work, student loans, grants, bursaries, RESPs, or other resources,
- the child's academic performance and dedication to their studies,
- the parents’ financial situations, and
- any plans the parents may have made for the child's post-secondary schooling while they were still together.
In general, the courts will allow an adult child to benefit from child support for one program of post-secondary study — one degree or one diploma — so long as the child is enrolled full-time. Where one or both parents have high incomes and had always expected, while they were together, that the child would take an advanced degree, child support can be payable for more than one program of study.
Many post-secondary institutions consider that 60 percent of a full course load is “full-time," and the courts usually go along with that approach.
While the amount of support for adult children is presumed to be the Guideline table amount, section 3(2) of the Guidelines allows the court to order a different amount that the court considers appropriate, taking into account the child’s needs and other circumstances, and the financial circumstances of the child and the parents.
The primary sections of the Divorce Act dealing with child support are these:
- section 2: definitions
- section 3: the court's authority to make child support orders when a spouse is asking for a divorce order
- section 4: the court's authority to make child support orders after the court has made a divorce order
- section 5: the court's authority to change child support orders after the court has made a divorce order
- section 15.1: child support
- section 15.3: child support has priority over spousal support
- section 17: applying to change an order
The Family Law Act
Parents and guardians can apply for child support under the Family Law Act whether they are married spouses, unmarried spouses, or were in no particular relationship with each other at all but had a child together. People other than parents can also apply for child support if they are caring for a child, including grandparents who are guardians of their grandchildren and people who have been appointed as a guardian of a child.
Both the Supreme Court and the Provincial Court can make orders for child support under the Family Law Act.
Qualifying for child support
Definitions play an important role in determining eligibility and responsibility for child support under the Family Law Act, just as they do under the Divorce Act. Section 147 of the Family Law Act says that each parent and guardian of a child is responsible for the support of that child, and section 146 defines child, parent and guardian:
"child" includes a person who is 19 years of age or older and unable, because of illness, disability or another reason, to obtain the necessaries of life or withdraw from the charge of his or her parents or guardians;
"guardian" does not include a guardian
(a) who is not a parent, and
(b) whose only parental responsibility is respecting the child's legal and financial interests;
"parent" includes a stepparent, if the stepparent has a duty to provide for the child under section 147(4);
Section 146 also gives a definition of stepparent for the definition of "parent," which mentions stepparents, and says that:
"stepparent" means a person who is a spouse of the child's parent and lived with the child's parent and the child during the child's life.
(Remember that under the Family Law Act, "spouse" includes married people as well as people who lived together, in a romantic relationship, for at least two years or for less than two years if they have a child together.)
Section 147 puts some really important limits on support for children, and on when stepparents are and aren't responsible to pay child support:
(1) Each parent and guardian of a child has a duty to provide support for the child, unless the child
(a) is a spouse, or
(b) is under 19 years of age and has voluntarily withdrawn from his or her parents' or guardians' charge, except if the child withdrew because of family violence or because the child's circumstances were, considered objectively, intolerable.
(4) A child's stepparent does not have a duty to provide support for the child unless
(a) the stepparent contributed to the support of the child for at least one year, and
(b) a proceeding for an order under this Part, against the stepparent, is started within one year after the date the stepparent last contributed to the support of the child.
Section 149(3)(b) also says that an order can't be made against a stepparent until the stepparent and parent have separated. This means that while a stepparent and a child’s parent live together, the stepparent has no legal duty to support that child, unless the stepparent becomes a guardian of the child.
As you can see, these definitions cast a very wide net and it's fairly easy to qualify as a "parent" who must pay child support. A few important points come from the case law on these definitions:
- All parents are responsible to pay child support, regardless of the nature of the parents' relationship with each other.
- Child support can be paid by stepparents and by guardians who aren't parents.
- Child support can be paid for the same child by more than one parent, guardian, and stepparent.
- A duty to pay child support can end before a child turns 19, if the child becomes a spouse or has left home and is supporting themself.
- Child support can be paid after a child turns 19 if the child is unable to withdraw from the care of their parents because of illness, disability, a reasonable delay in finishing high school, or attendance at a post-secondary school.
On that last point, the factors a court will think about in deciding whether a child's academic career continues to qualify the child for support are the same factors the court will think about under the Divorce Act, discussed above.
Stepparents and child support
The Family Law Act says that stepparents can be responsible for paying child support, just as biological and adoptive parents are responsible for paying child support. This has meant that in some cases, more than one person who meets the Act's definitions of "parent" and "stepparent" are required to pay child support for the same child at the same time. In fact, there are even cases in which a parent has been involved in a series of long-term relationships, each of which were long enough to create a child support obligation for each of the parent's partners.
A 2004 case of the Supreme Court, H.J.H. v. N.H.H., decided under the old Family Relations Act, offers some guidance for stepparents trying to stick-handle around this issue. In H.J.H., the parties had been married for less than three years when they separated. Each had been previously married, and the problem centred around the wife's child from a previous relationship and whether the husband should have to support the child. The court found that the husband, who qualified as a stepparent under the act, was not responsible for paying support, because of the combined effect of the following factors:
- the marriage was short,
- the stepparent's relationship with the child broke down shortly into the marriage,
- the stepparent had no ongoing relationship with the child, and any such relationship with the child was opposed by the parent,
- the stepparent had a modest income, from which the stepparent was already paying support for two children from his previous marriage,
- the child's biological parent was paying child support for the child, and
- the parent had extended health and dental coverage for the child through her employment.
The Family Law Act helps to clear up some of these confusing issues. Section 147(5) says:
If a stepparent has a duty to provide support for a child under subsection (4), the stepparent's duty
(a) is secondary to that of the child's parents and guardians, and
(b) extends only as appropriate on consideration of
(i) the standard of living experienced by the child during the relationship between the stepparent and his or her spouse, and
(ii) the length of time during which the child lived with the stepparent.
In most cases, stepparents won't be let off the hook entirely. Most of the time, the court will take a biological or adoptive parent's obligation into account when figuring out how much child support a stepparent should pay, look at the obligation of any non-parent guardians, and require stepparents only to make a sort of top-up payment rather than pay the full amount required by the Guidelines.
A few other important points come from the case law about stepparents and child support:
- The definition of "stepparent" includes anyone who has been the spouse of a parent and contributed to the support of the child for at least one year.
- The phrase "contributed to the support of the child for at least one year" does not mean for a whole, continuous calendar year. The 1999 Supreme Court decision in Hagen v. Muir talks about this issue.
- Child support obligations may end for an adult child if the child makes a decision to stop having a meaningful relationship with the parent who pays support. The 1993 Supreme Court case of Farden v. Farden talks about circumstances like these.
- Whether stepparents and adult children do or don't have an ongoing relationship may be important when deciding if child support should be paid and in what amount.
- Applications for child support from a stepparent under the Family Law Act must be brought within one year of the date of the stepparent's last contribution to the support of the child, and can only be made after the stepparent and parent have split up.
- What qualifies as “contribution” to the support of the child depends on the facts. Trivial or off-and-on contributions may not be enough, as the court in the 2007 Supreme Court case of McConnell v. McConnell discussed.
Securing a child support obligation
The court may make a number of additional orders when it makes an order for child support to help make sure that child support continues to be paid, including after the death of the payor. Under section 170 of the Family Law Act, the court may:
- order that a charge be registered against property to secure a duty to pay child support,
- require a payor with life insurance to maintain their insurance policy and make the other parent or the child a beneficiary of the policy, or
- order that child support will continue to be paid after the payor's death, and be paid from the payor's estate.
Before the court makes an order that requires child support to be paid from the payor's estate, section 171(1) say that the court must consider:
- whether the recipient's need for support will survive the payor's death,
- whether the payor's estate is enough to meet the recipient's needs, taking into account the interests of the people who stand to inherit from the payor's estate and the creditors entitled to be paid from the payor's estate, and
- whether any other means exist to meet the recipient's needs.
It is important to know that, under section 26 of the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act, a person who receives child support can register a charge against real property belonging to the payor, even if child support is up to date and there are no arrears.
Child support when the payor dies
When a payor dies, the recipient can apply to court for an order under section 171(3)(b) of the Family Law Act that the payor's support obligation will continue and will be paid from the payor's estate.
When a recipient applies to continue a support obligation, or if a support order says that the obligation will continue past the payor's death, the payor's personal representative, the person managing the payor's estate and will, has the right to argue against the recipient's application and the right to apply to change or stop the duty to pay child support.
The primary sections of the Family Law Act dealing with child support are these:
- section 1: general definitions
- section 146: definitions specifically about child support
- section 147: the duty to pay child support
- section 148: agreements about child support
- section 149: orders about child support
- section 150: determining how much child support should be paid
- section 152: changing orders about child support
- section 170: securing a child support obligation
- section 173: child support has priority over spousal support
Getting a child support order
There are five things the court has to think about before it can make a child support order:
- Does the person asking for the order have the right to claim child support?
- Is the child entitled to benefit from the payment of child support?
- Does the person against whom the order is sought have a duty to pay child support?
- How much child support should be paid?
- How long should child support be paid for?
First, the court must decide that the person applying for a child support order, the applicant, is able to make the application. Usually, this is just a matter of fitting into the definitions in the legislation. To make an order under the Divorce Act, the court must have jurisdiction to pronounce a divorce, which requires that the applicant must be or have been married to the person against whom the order is sought and must have lived in the province in which the application is made for at least one year. Under the Family Law Act, the applicant can be anyone included in the definitions of "parent" and "guardian." If the claim is being made against a stepparent, the claim must be made within one year after the stepparent last contributed to the child's support, it must be made after the stepparent and parent have separated, and it must be made within one year of separation.
Second, the court must find that the child qualifies as a "child" under the definition in the Family Law Act or as a child of the marriage under the definition in the Divorce Act. Under the Family Law Act, the court must also decide that the child is not a spouse and has not withdrawn from the care of their parents or guardians.
It is important that the application for child support is made while the child still qualifies for child support, otherwise, the court may not have the authority to make a child support order, even a retroactive child support order. There is sometimes an exception to this general rule for applications to change child support orders made under the Divorce Act; the 2015 Court of Appeal decision in MacCarthy v. MacCarthy and the 2017 case of Colucci v. Colucci from the Ontario Court of Appeal talk about this problem. However, the Supreme Court of Canada's 2020 decision in Michel v. Graydon said that child support orders under the Family Law Act can be changed under section 152 of the act, whether or not the child is still a "child" under the act.
Third, the court must find that the person against whom the claim is made has a duty to pay child support. This is also a matter of fitting into the definitions.
If the first three conditions have been met, the fourth decision the court must make is to figure out how much the payor should pay. The court must first decide what the payor's annual income is, using the parties' financial information, and then fix the amount of support payable according to the tables set out in the Child Support Guidelines based on the number of children and the payor's income. There are exceptions to this basic rule, which this chapter discusses in the section Exceptions to the Child Support Guidelines.
Fifth, the court will look at how long the payor's obligation should last. This issue is not always argued about, as both the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act have cut-off dates after which children are no longer eligible to receive support. Most orders and agreements say that child support shall be paid "until," for example, "the child is no longer a child of the marriage as defined by the Divorce Act," "the child is no longer a child as defined by the Family Law Act," or "the child reaches the age of 19." The question of a stop date for support usually only crops up where the child is an adult engaged in post-secondary studies or is otherwise "unable to withdraw from the charge" of their parents.
The situation can be more complicated for payors who are not parents, namely stepparents and guardians who are not parents. How much child support should be paid, and for how long, depend on whether or not the biological parent is or should be paying child support. Often a stepparent is required to pay less child support than what the Guidelines tables would normally require, taking into account what the biological parent is or should be paying. A recipient may be required to make a claim for child support against the biological parent before the court will make orders against a stepparent or a guardian who is not a parent.
Getting an order inside British Columbia
A parent or guardian who is asking for a child support order can apply for that order in either the Supreme Court or the Provincial Court. (If there are claims for divorce or dividing property, which only the Supreme Court can deal with, it usually makes sense to ask for child support in the Supreme Court. You might as well deal with everything in one court.) Whichever court the parent or guardian wants to proceed in, they must start a court proceeding. The process for starting a court proceeding is described in the chapter Resolving Family Law Problems in Court, in the section Starting a Court Proceeding in a Family Matter.
Getting an order outside British Columbia
A parent or guardian living with a child in British Columbia who wants to get child support from someone living outside of the province has three choices:
- start the process here, in British Columbia, using the provincial Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act,
- start a court proceeding in the place where the other parent lives, or
- start a court proceeding here under the Divorce Act or the Family Law Act, get a child support order, and then enforce that order in the place where the other parent lives.
The Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act allows a person who lives in British Columbia to start a process that will result in an order being made in the jurisdiction in which the other parent lives. The applicant fills out paperwork here, and gives it to the provincial Interjurisdictional Support Services office. A staff member will forward that package to the Reciprocals Office where the other parent lives, and the court there will have a hearing, on notice to the other parent, which may result in a child support order being made. The law that will apply is the law where the other parent lives, which will either be the Divorce Act, if the other parent is outside of Canada, or the local equivalent of British Columbia's Family Law Act, if the other parent lives elsewhere in Canada.
The Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act process applies in every province and territory. However, only certain countries have agreed to the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act process. If the country where the other parent lives hasn't made an agreement with British Columbia about child support orders, someone who wants to get a child support order will normally have to start a court proceeding in the place where the other parent lives. This will require hiring a lawyer in that country, and the law that will apply will be the laws of that country, not the Family Law Act or the Divorce Act.
The countries that will cooperate with a proceeding under the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act are:
- United States of America — all of the United States, including the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands
- Pacific Ocean — Australia, Fiji, New Zealand (including the Cook Islands), and Papua New Guinea
- Europe — Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Slovak Republic, Swiss Confederation, Gibraltar, and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- Caribbean — Barbados and its Dependencies
- Africa — South Africa and Zimbabwe
- Asia — Hong Kong and Republic of Singapore
See the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Regulation for the current list.
Income tax issues
It used to be the case that the person paying child support could claim an income tax deduction for their support payments, while the recipient had to claim it as taxable income. Not anymore. Any child support payments made pursuant to a written agreement or court order made after 30 April 1997 are neither deductible for the payor nor taxable for the recipient.
The portion of a lawyer's bill attributable to obtaining, increasing, or enforcing a child support order is tax-deductible. The cost of defending a claim for child support is not deductible. Read the Canada Revenue Agency's Income Tax Folio S1-F3-C3, Support Payments for the fine print, and speak to an accountant to get advice to see if you qualify to write off the portion of your lawyer’s bill that relates to child support.
To claim this deduction, the lawyer must write a letter to the Canada Revenue Agency setting out what portion of their fees were attributable to advancing or enforcing a child support claim. If you intend to ask your lawyer for a letter like this, you should tell your lawyer as soon as possible — preferably the moment the lawyer takes your case! — so that they can keep a log of time spent on your claim for child support.
In a shared parenting situation, where each parent has a duty to pay child support to the other parent, the higher-income parent often just pays the difference between the higher amount they owe and the lower amount they would receive from the lower-income parent. This difference is called a set-off amount. In a court order or agreement, however, it matters how this arrangement is worded. Recently, the Canada Revenue Agency has decided that if the agreement or order says that only the higher income-earning parent pays child support, the Canada Revenue Agency will treat the situation as if there is only one payor and one recipient of child support.
In cases like this, the Canada Revenue Agency will not allow the parents to share child tax deductions or grants, and will not allow the parents to claim the children as dependents when they file their taxes. As a result, it's a good idea to make sure that your agreement or order says that each parent pays child support to the other. And it's probably best to not even mention the set-off amount actually paid. You can do the math to figure that out yourself. An agreement might, for example, say something like this:
1. The parenting arrangements for the children qualify as "shared parenting time" within the meaning of the federal Child Support Guidelines because Parent 1 and Parent 2 anticipate that the children will live with each of them not less than 40% of the time.
2. For the purposes of determining the amount of child support payable under the Guidelines, Parent 1 and Parent 2 agree that:
(a) Parent 1’s annual income for the calculation of child support is $_______, and
(b) Parent 2’s annual income for the calculation of child support is $_______,
(c) such that Parent 1 will pay Parent 2 the sum of $_______ as child support for two children, and Parent 2 will pay Parent 1 the sum of $_______ as child support for two children.
Some lawyers and accountants even suggest that actual cheques for the full amounts should be exchanged to show that each parent pays child support to the other parent.
You can apply to receive child support from a parent who is receiving social assistance or disability social assistance, but don't expect to get much for your trouble. The Guidelines do not require that a parent pay child support if the parent's annual income is less than $12,100 per year. Social assistance or disability assistance payments, which are non-taxable, would be subject to a gross up for child support calculation purposes. ("Grossing-up" is explained more in the Child Support Guidelines section of this chapter, but it's essentially a process for adjusting the income used to calculate someone's child support obligation when they don't pay as much tax on their income as other people usually do.)
Even if you're not likely to get a lot of money in child support, it may be a good idea to make the application and get an order, since the order will at least establish the payor's obligation to pay child support. It's often easier to ask for an increase in the amount payable later on, when the payor is back on their feet, than it is to apply for an original child support order later on. As well, some people who might be normally responsible to pay support, like a stepparent, may lose their obligation to pay support under the Family Law Act if the application isn't made within a year of the person's last contribution to the child's support. It can be critical to get an order that child support be paid early on.
Children's right to claim child support
In almost all cases, it is the parent who claims child support on behalf of a child, not the child. However, the right to benefit from the payment of child support belongs to the child, not the parent. As a result, if child support is the right of the child, adult children should be able to ask for support on their own, without having to go through a parent to get it.
When there is an order between the parents
A parent can only be subject to a single order to pay child support for a particular child, and if there is an order between the parents to pay child support, an adult child cannot obtain a new order. The adult child can, however, apply to enforce the old order if their parents are not complying with the order and arrears of support are owed.
When someone does not pay child support, or pays less than they are required to pay, "arrears" build up. Arrears are the sum of money that should have been paid according to the court order or an agreement but wasn't paid. Arrears are a "judgment debt," just like any other debt owing because of a court order that requires someone to pay money to someone else. Judgment debts can be enforced under the provincial Court Order Enforcement Act, which allows the debtor's wages and benefits to be garnished, and allows real property and personal property to be sold to pay off a judgment debt. Interest, calculated under the Court Order Interest Act, is owing on judgment debts.
An adult child who is the subject of a child support order can apply to enforce any arrears as a judgment debt. The child can apply to enforce the old order starting when they become an adult able to sue someone else, age 19 in British Columbia.
The Limitation Act does not apply to claims for arrears of child support payable under a judgment or an agreement that has been filed with the court; see section 3(1)(l) of the act.
When there isn't an order between the parents
Nothing prevents an adult child from applying for child support, as long as the child would normally be entitled to receive child support, but it can be a bit complicated.
First, the child cannot apply for child support under the Divorce Act, because that act only applies to people who are "spouses," defined as people who are or who used to be married to each other; under section 15.1 of the act, the court can only order a spouse to pay child support. The only other law that might apply is the Family Law Act. Section 147(1) of the Family Law Act says that "each parent and guardian of a child" is responsible for supporting that child; section 149(2)(b) says that a child can apply for a support order.
Second, for so long as the child's parents are together and the child continues to live with them, the child will not be entitled to ask for a child support order as the court will assume that the child's needs are being met.
Third, a child seeking a child support order must qualify as a child, as defined by section 147 of the Family Law Act, in order to claim child support. While the court cannot grant a child a support order if the child doesn't qualify as a "child" within the meaning of the act, it is also the case that children under the age of 19 are under a "legal disability," which means they cannot start a court proceeding and apply for child support on their own. This leaves two options:
- The child is 19 or older and applies for support as an adult child "unable to withdraw" from the care of their parents, and therefore still qualifies as a "child" entitled to receive support.
- The child is a minor, less than 19 years old, and applies for support through a "litigation guardian."
If you are a child thinking of making a claim for child support, you really should speak to a lawyer. This area of the law is not straightforward at all.
- Family Law Act
- Divorce Act
- Child Support Guidelines
- Criminal Code
- Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act
- Interjurisdictional Support Orders Regulation
- Income Tax Act
- Court Order Enforcement Act
- Court Order Interest Act
- Limitation Act
- Family Maintenance Enforcement Act
- Department of Justice's website: "Provincial and Territorial Information on Interjurisdictional and International Support Order Enforcement" (list of reciprocals offices by province)
- Ministry of Attorney General Interjurisdictional Support Services (BC reciprocals office)
- Canada Revenue Agency's Income Tax Folio: S1-F3-C3, Support Payments
- Ministry of Attorney General's website: "Family Maintenance Services"
- Dial-A-Law Script "Child support"
- Legal Aid BC's Family Law website's information page "Child & spousal support"
- Under "Child support"
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by JP Boyd, 24 August 2022.|
|JP Boyd on Family Law © John-Paul Boyd and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|