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Support Payments

Stack of TooniesRead below if you are in the process of a separation or divorce and are currently or expecting to receive or pay support payments.

Please click on a topic below to find out more information:


Background

Since 1997 the amount of child support that a parent must pay as the result of a divorce has been determined in accordance with the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Outside of the divorce context, provincial and territorial child support guidelines apply (i.e. unmarried couples or couples who are separated and not applying for divorce); the provincial and territorial child support guidelines are either identical or very similar to the Federal Child Support Guidelines (except in Quebec). The Federal Child Support Guidelines specify the exact amount of support that must be paid by the parent which depends on the number of children, income of the payor and the province/territory of residence. Although the amount of child support can be determined very easily once the income of the payor spouse has been determined, the determination of income is not always a straightforward exercise and can be fairly complicated when the paying spouse is self-employed or has various sources of income other than employment income.

In January 2005, the Department of Justice Canada released draft Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (“SSAG”) authored by Professor Carol Rogerson from the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto and Professor Rollie Thompson from the Dalhousie Law School. In July of 2008 the final version of the SSAG were released. Unlike the Federal Child Support Guidelines, the SSAG are not law and are only informal guidelines for advisory purposes; the guidelines are intended to assist lawyers and judges in determining the amount of spousal support with the goal of establishing more fairness and consistency in the determination of spousal support. Although the SSAG are only advisory, they have been well received and are typically used when determining the appropriate amount of spousal support. In contrast with the Federal Child Support Guidelines, the SSAG provide a range of possible support amounts and not just a fixed number. In addition, the SSAG provide a different formula for determining the spousal support depending on whether or not child support is being paid; the SSAG formula for the amount of spousal support when child support is being paid is quite complex and requires computer based iteration to determine the appropriate amount of spousal support.


Valuation of Support Payments

It is important to consider what will happen in the event that the person paying the support dies. One possible method for securing your support payments is to have the person paying the support maintain life insurance, with you as the beneficiary. An actuary can determine the appropriate amount of life insurance that will need to be held.