After parents separate, they often wonder how to figure out what one will have to pay the other to cover the needs of any children involved.
Most parents in Quebec must fill out a form called a Child Support Determination Form (also called "Schedule I") to calculate the basic amount of child support one parent will have to pay.
Child Support Determination Form
The Justice Québec website now has a tool parents can use to calculate the amount of child support they must pay.
Parents can also get a copy of the Child Support Determination Form from the website of Justice Québec.
Each parent can complete a separate form to determine how much child support one of them will have to pay the other.
Or, if the parents get along, they can fill out one form together.
Calculating the Amount of Child Support
The first step is to identify the parents and the children.The children are the ones the parents had together and who will benefit from the child support.
Then, child support payments are calculated based on these factors:
- parents' income
- number of children they have together
- children's expenses
- number of hours of custody and visiting rights of each parent
- each parent's ability to pay
- each parent's assets (property, investments, money in the bank, etc.) and debts
1. Parents' Income
It is the parents’ income before income taxes that counts.
If a parent is self employed, the expenses paid to earn the income are deducted first.
The parent filling out the form reports his or her own income as well as the other parent’s income.
The word "income" is very broad and can include many different things, such as the amounts listed on lines 203 to 208:
These amounts can be deducted from the total income of each parent:
- an amount the government sets each year (line 301)
- union dues paid by a parent (line 302)
- any professional dues paid by a parent (line 303)
Disposable Income of Each Parent
Disposable income is income left over after paying certain expenses. To calculate the disposable income of each parent (line 305), certain amounts are subtracted from each parent's total income:
Disposable Income of Both Parents
The disposable income of each parent (line 305) is added together, and the result is entered on line 306.
2. Number of Children the Parents Have Together
The amount of the support payments depends on the number of children.
The "basic parental contribution" is entered on line 401 of the form. This amount is calculated by matching the disposable income of both parents (line 306) with the number of children using the table in Schedule II. The basic parental contribution usually covers these needs of the children:
- telecommunications (phone, etc.)
- personal care
- recreational activities
The basic parental contribution is divided between the parents according to their incomes (line 402).
3. Children's Expenses
The form can help determine how to divide some of the expenses other than those covered by the basic amount. The support payment might then be increased or decreased depending on these extra expenses.
a) Child Care Expenses
Parents must share child care expenses.
Child care expenses include the annual amount to pay for the children’s needs.
They also include expenses that the parent with custody must incur to continue working, studying or looking after their health.
- is taking courses or doing job training, or
- has a health problem.+
b) Post-Secondary Education Expenses
The parents must share the children’s education expenses after high school, if the children are under 18 or are still dependent.
Here are examples of these expenses:
- tuition fees
c) Special Expenses
A child can have special needs like these:
- private school
- sporting activities or art classes that go beyond a simple recreational activity
These costs can be included on line 405 of the form:
4. Number of Hours of Custody and Visiting Rights
The amount of child support depends on how much time the children spend with each parent.
Basically, the more time a child spends with a parent, the less child support this parent has to pay.
The form has four main sections when it comes to custody and visiting rights:
- Sole custody (the children are with one parent more than 60% of the time)
- Sole custody granted to each parent (at least one child is with each parent more than 60% of the time)
- Shared custody (the children are with each parent between 40% and 60% of the time)
- Other types of custody (a parent has sole custody of one child and shared custody of the other children, for example)
Parents complete the section that applies to their situation.
5. Parent's Ability to Pay
The law says that the amount of child support should not be higher than half of the disposable income* of the parent paying the child support.
Part 6 of the form ensures that the amount of child support calculated using the form is not greater than the maximum amount allowed.
*Disposable income = parent's total income minus allowable deductions
6. Parents' Assets and Debts
Each parent must report their assets and debts:
- ASSETS: This is what each parent owns (house, car, furniture, money in a bank account, investments, shares in a company, etc.). Each parent must also report the value of the assets.
- DEBTS: This is what each parent owes (mortgage, loan, credit card debts, etc.).
Therefore, a parent who has a low income on paper but owns a lot of assets might have to make higher support payments than the payments calculated using the form.
In the same way, a parent who has high debts might be allowed to make lower support payments than the payments calculated using the form.
Same Form, Different Results
Each parent might end up with different calculations using the same form. This sometimes happens if the parents do not agree on the following:
- amount of income (e.g., one parent works under the table (does not report all income) and the other wants her to report her undeclared income, one parent quits his job and reports that he has no income, but the other wants him to report the income he was earning before he quit)
- which children to include on the form (e.g., one parent wants to include a child who is over 18, but the other parent does not.)
- children's expenses (e.g.,, one parent wants to include the children's ballet classes while the other argues they already covered by the basic parental contribution, one of the parents wants the children to go to private school, but the other wants them to go to public school)
- custody and visiting rights (e.g., custody has not yet been decided and on the form, both parents say they have sole custody of the children)
If the parents are not able to agree on the amount of support payments, a judge will decide how much child support one parent will have to pay.
Agreeing Not to Use the Amount Calculated on the Form
It is possible for parents to agree on different child support payments than what they calculated using the form.
However, parents must justify the decision not to use this amount:
A judge will decide whether the agreement of the parents does enough to protect the interests of the children.
This article explains in a general way the law that applies in Quebec. This article is not a legal opinion or legal advice. To find out the specific rules for your situation, consult a lawyer or notary.