What are the child support guidelines?

The federal child support guidelines are the rules for calculating the amount of child support one parent must pay to the other parent to help support their child or children.

The guidelines apply to all parents who are not together. You may have been a married couple, or you may have been in a common-law relationship. Or you may have never lived together at all.

The guidelines work on the principle that both parents should share the same portion of their income with their children as if they lived together.

The guidelines set out monthly child support amounts in a table that uses:

  • The paying parent's level of income, and
  • The number of children eligible for child support

In almost all cases, judges are required to follow the guidelines to determine the amount of child support.

Many parents can use the child support guidelines to help them reach an agreement. If parents can agree, they have some flexibility in setting the child support amount, as long as reasonable arrangements have been made taking into account the guideline amount.

The parents may agree the paying parent will pay less child support because they will, for example, pay for the child’s sports expenses directly. Or, one parent may give up their right to the family home so the other parent and child can remain there with the understanding that this would be offset through lower monthly child support.

More information

You can get detailed information about the Child Support Guidelines at the Department of Justice Canada website in the questions and answers section.

You may also wish to download a free copy of the Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step.

To help you calculate the correct amount of child support, please visit:

You can call the Department of Justice Canada's Family Law Information Line at 1-888-373-2222. When you call, be ready to tell them:

  • Where the paying parent lives
  • Whether both parents live in the same province or territory, and
  • The number of children to be supported

For additional information, please see the fact sheet Child Support by the Legal Services Society.