Child Support Guidelines in BC

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

What are the child support guidelines?

The Child Support Guidelines are regulations made by the federal government about how to calculate the amount of child support that one parent must pay to the other. The provincial government has adopted the Guidelines for the Family Law Act.

The guidelines apply to all parents, whether or not they had an ongoing relationship, whether they were married or not, and whether they are an opposite-sex or a same-sex couple.

How do the guidelines work?

The Child Support Guidelines include tables that set out monthly support amounts, depending on two things:

  • the income of the payor, the parent paying support; and,
  • the number of children for whom support is to be paid.

The child support amounts found in the Guidelines tables are updated from time to time. The tables were most recently updated on December 31st, 2011. The Guidelines tables change from province to province. The tables you should use are the tables for the province where the payor lives. The tables can be found at [].

The amounts set out in the Guidelines tables may not apply if:

  • the child is 19 or older;
  • the payor’s income is more than $150,000 per year;
  • one or more children live with each of you and the other parent;
  • you and the other parent share the children’s time equally or almost equally; or,
  • payment of the table amount would cause hardship to you or to the other parent

Some of these exceptions to the Guidelines tables are discussed in this section.

What are special or extraordinary expenses?

The amount listed in the Guidelines table may be only a starting point. Parents, or the court, may decide that certain of the children’s expenses aren’t covered by the table’s amount.

The Guidelines table amount of child support is meant to cover the payor’s share of almost every expense a child has, from new shoes and new clothes, to school supplies and bus fare. Special expenses, sometimes called extraordinary expenses, are expenses that both the payor and the recipient pay toward. These expenses tend to be large expenses that are necessary for the child, such as childcare or orthodontics.

If you and the other parent agree, or if the court orders, both of you will contribute to the cost of the children’s special expenses. Although you can agree to split the cost 50/50, the Guidelines say you should split them in proportion to your incomes.

For example: Sarah earns $20,000 a year and Raoul earns $30,000. The total amount of money available to pay for the child is $50,000, which is Sarah’s income plus Raoul’s income. Sarah earns 40 per cent of that total amount and Raoul earns the other 60 per cent of the total amount. Sarah would pay for 40 per cent of the cost of the children’s special expenses and Raoul would pay for the rest.

Important note: Some special expenses, like medical costs and orthodontics, can be very expensive and it can be important to deal with these expenses in an order or agreement for child support. Even if you don’t know what the children’s special expenses will be, you can agree or the court can order that you will pay for those future expenses in proportion to your incomes.

What are the exceptions to the guidelines table amounts?

You and the other parent have shared custody if the children live at least 40 per cent of the time with each of you over the course of a year. If the children are in the care of the payor for at least 40 per cent of the time, an amount different from the amount in the Child Support Guidelines may be ordered or agreed to.

If you asked a court to decide, the judge would look at the guideline amount for each parent, the increased costs for the payor as a result of having the children for so much of the time, and the financial circumstances and needs of the child and of each parent.

If one or more children live with you and with the other parent, you have split custody. In this case, each must use the Child Support Guidelines to determine what they would owe the other parent based on their own income level and the number of children living with the other parent. The parent who would owe more to the other must pay the difference between the two amounts.

For example: Two children live with Frank and one child lives with Liu. Liu would have to pay Frank $300 under the Guidelines tables for the two children living with Frank, and Frank would have to pay Liu $225 under the tables for the child living with her, Liu would pay $75 to Frank, the difference in the two amounts, and Frank would pay nothing.

If one or more of the children are 19 or older,the amount of child support can be different than what the Guidelines tables require. If you asked a court to decide, the judge would look at the financial circumstances and needs of the child, including any money available to the child from employment, and of each parent.

If the payor earns more than $150,000 per year, the amount of child support can be different than what the Guidelines tables require. If you asked a court to decide, the judge would lookat the financial circumstances and needs of the child and of each parent, and the usual needs of other children of parents with high incomes.

If the amount of child support required by the Guidelines tables would cause undue hardship to the payor, by being too much, or to the recipient, by being too little, the court may order child support in a different amount than what the Guidelines tables require. The judge would look at whether payment of the table amount would actually result in undue hardship and compare the standards of living of the payor’s household and the recipient’s household.

Where can I find the child support guidelines for BC?

The Child Support Guidelines tables differ from one province or territory to another because the cost of living differs from one province or territory to another. To get a copy of the Guidelines tables for BC, you can:

  • Request a copy from your local courthouse library by calling 604.660.2841 or

1.800.665.2570 (toll free).

  • Call the BC Family Justice Services Information Line to request a copy.
  • Download a copy from the Department of Justice website here.

The Department of Justice has published a helpful child support calculator, click here

How do child support payments affect income tax?

In 1997, the federal government changed the income tax rules about child support payments. Under these new rules:

  • payors cannot deduct child support from their income; and,
  • recipients do not have to report it as income. In other words, there are no tax consequences

from paying or receiving child support.

What can happen if child support isn’t paid?

The Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP) is a government agency that enforces child support obligations in orders and agreements. FMEP keeps track of what the recipient is owed by the payor based on the order or agreement, as well as the interest owed on any arrears.

Both payors and recipients can register an order or agreement for child support with FMEP. Most of the time, it is recipients who sign up with FMEP. When this happens, the payor will be required to send all support payments to FMEP, which will record the amounts paid and forward them to the recipient.

If a payor does not pay as required by an order or agreement, FMEP may take steps to recover that money. FMEP may take some or all the payor’s income (such as wages, pensions, income tax refunds, GST credits, workers’ compensation benefits or rental income) or the payor’s bank accounts.

FMEP may require anyone who owes the payor money (such as an employer or the government) to pay it directly to them.

FMEP may also register a lien against a payor’s land or personal property, or obtain a court order to seize and sell the payor’s property. If the payor owes more than $2,000, FMEP may report him or her to a credit bureau, making it harder for the payor to get a credit card or a loan. If the payor owes more than $3,000, FMEP may instruct ICBC to refuse to issue or renew the payor’s driver’s licence, and ask the federal government to suspend or refuse to issue or renew the payor’s passport or aviation or marine licence.

If the payor owns a corporation, or a major part of one, FMEP may make the corporation responsible for the child support payments. FMEP will also charge a payor a default fee if he or she misses or is late on two payments within the same calendar year. This money goes to FMEP to help the government cover the costs of running the program.

Other rules about child support

What if a child support recipient is receiving income assistance?

In order to be eligible for income or disability assistance from the Ministry of Social Development, a person who is or might be entitled to receive child support is required to sign a form called an “Assignment of Maintenance Rights.” Signing this form gives the Ministry the right to try to get the other parent to pay child support. This is called assigning the right to child support.

A recipient who assigns his or her right to child support to the Ministry may be allowed to keep some of the child support money that the Ministry collects from the other parent. You can find out more from your caseworker.

Once the right to child support is assigned, the Ministry, instead of the recipient, has the right:

  • to go to court to ask for a child support order;
  • to review the amount of child support paid, and to go to court to ask to change a child support order; and,
  • to enforce the order, if necessary.

The Ministry may do these things without asking you.

Important note: A child support order obtained by the Ministry will continue after you stop collecting income assistance.

What happens if the payor dies?

Under the Family Law Act, if the person paying child support dies, the recipient can apply for an order that the child support payments continue and be paid from the payor’s estate. This can be required whenever the court makes an order about child support.

What about life insurance?

Under the Family Law Act, the court can also make an order that someone who is required to pay child support must have a life insurance policy. The order can say who must pay the policy premiums and who the insurance money must be paid to if the payor dies.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by People's Law School, 2014.

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence Basics of Child Support in BC © People's Law School is, except for the images, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.
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