Changing Child Support Using the SARPA Service

Comstock / Stockbyte / Thinkstock
Comstock / Stockbyte / Thinkstock

There is a government service called Service administratif de rajustement des pensions alimentaires pour enfants or "SARPA" (child support adjustment service). SARPA lets parents change the amount of support payments for any children under 18. They do not have to go back to court. Instead, they can ask SARPA to change the court decision that set or approved the support payments for these children.   

The Commission des services juridiques (legal aid) is responsible for this service.

Usually, one parent can apply to SARPA without the agreement of the other parent. However, in some situations both parents must agree.

To use the SARPA service, the parents must meet specific requirements. Some of these requirements are listed below:

 

Requirements to Qualify for SARPA

  • The child must be under 18.

The child must be under 18 when SARPA adjusts the support payments. Therefore, it is important to take into account the time it will take to process the request and to make it well in advance.

  • The parents must live in Quebec most of the time.

The parents of the child involved must live in Quebec most of the time.

  • The support payments were set in a court decision.

The child support must have been set or approved in a court decision in one of two ways:

    • A judge decided the amount of support payments in a final court decision.  
    • The parents agreed on the amount of support payments and then had their agreement "homologated." This means that a judge or special court clerk approved the agreement. Sometimes agreements between the parents also cover other issues regarding their separation, such as the child's living arrangements.  
  • The parents' or child's situation has changed.

The financial situation of the parents or the situation of the child must have changed since the last court decision fixing the amount of support payments. This would be the case, for example, if a parent lost a job, or if the child started going to a private school.

However, it is possible to apply to SARPA even if the parents' financial situation or the child's situation has not changed. You can apply to SARPA if the last court decision setting the support payments, or the last adjustment by SARPA, was over a year ago. Keep in mind that the new amount of support payments that SARPA calculates might be almost the same as the original amount.

Other Requirements

Aside from the requirements described above, the parents must meet other requirements that have to do with their particular situations. To learn more about these requirements and to know whether you qualify, you can visit SARPA's website and answer an interactive questionnaire. On the SARPA website, go to the section called "Filing an Application." Then choose number 1 called "Determine Your Eligibility."

 

SARPA Request

One parent alone can make a request to SARPA. This request is called an "application." This can be the parent who is paying support or the parent who is receiving support. However, if the parents agree on the change to the child support payments, they can make the request together. On the request form, this is called a "joint application."

To make a SARPA request, complete the online form on the SARPA website.

If there is a problem with the online form, paper forms are available from the legal aid office in your area

 

SARPA Fees

The parent asking for the change must pay the fee in a single payment. If both parents are applying together, the fee is divided equally between them. The fee for a SARPA request is $280, since January 1st 2017.

Parents who qualify for legal aid can ask to use the SARPA service free of charge or at a lower cost. To find out whether you qualify for legal aid, visit the website of the Commission des services juridiques (legal aid) and click on the "Legal Aid" tab.  

 

Differences Between SARPA and the Homologation Assistance Service (HAS) 

The Homologation Assistance Service (HAS) is another service parents can use to change the amount of child support payments. However, SARPA and HAS cover different situations.

Here are some of the differences between the two: 

 

Service administratif de rajustement des pensions alimentaires
(SARPA)
Homologation Assistance Service
(HAS)

Situations Covered

Change to support payments for a child under 18

Change to:

  • child's living arrangements
  • support payments to children of all ages (under and over 18)
  • support payments to former spouses, in certain circumstances 

Agreement Between the Parents

One parent can make the request alone in most cases

Parents must agree on all changes

Types of Situations

Only used for "simple" situations

Can be used even in complicated situations

Procedure

Procedure: use online or paper form

Procedure: involves a lawyer (included in the fee below)

Fees

$275

$529  

 

If you have any questions about SARPA, you can visit the website at www.sarpaquebec.ca, or call 1-855-LeSarpa (1-855-537-2772).  

If you have any questions about HAS, visit the website of the Commission des services juridiques ("Homologation" tab), or call the legal aid office in your area

Important !
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.