Child and Spousal Support

Who can claim child support or spousal support?

Child or spousal support payable after separation is established in accordance with the rules and guidelines set out in the Law.

The obligation for parents to support their child arises at birth. This obligation continues beyond separation.

Marriage creates an obligation of support and assistance between the spouses. From this obligation arises the possibility for a spouse to request spousal support after separation.

Child Support

When parents decide to separate, they must ensure that all of their child’s needs are met. Support exists to ensure that regardless of the custody arrangement, the child will enjoy a similar living standard to that experienced before the separation of his parents, in each household. Child support is based on the child’s needs and the parents’ available means.

The calculation of child support is based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines or the Quebec Child Support Regulations. It is calculated based on the division of custodial time and the parents’ annual gross income.

Federal guidelines apply only in the context of a divorce and where one of the spouses has a residence outside the province of Quebec. Unlike the Quebec Child Support Regulations, the federal support calculations only take into account the paying parent’s income.

The calculation of support according to federal guidelines can be done through a tool that is made available by the Department of Justice of Canada.

Quebec’s rules on the calculation of support apply when both spouses have their residence in the province of Quebec. The annual income of both parents is taken into consideration in the child support calculation. When determining the annual gross income, all sources of income are taken into consideration. Furthermore, in some cases the Court can decide to impute a higher income than what a parent has declared if it does not match his or her lifestyle or if there is evidence of a higher income.

It is possible to use the tool for the calculation of child support to have an estimation of the amount a payable. 


Support covers nine basic needs, including:

  • food
  • lodging
  • telecommunications
  • household maintenance
  • personal hygiene
  • clothing
  • furnishings
  • transportation
  • leisure activities

Besides from the nine basic needs, other expenses are excluded from child support. They are known as “special expenses”. They vary in each case and include some expenses which are specific to a child such as : certain extracurricular activities, private school fees or medical expenses not covered by the Quebec Health Insurance (RAMQ) or a private insurance. They are not part of the basic support and must be shared between the parents either on the basis of their respective income (pro rata), equally or according to another division agreed upon or determined by the Court.

Spousal Support

In Quebec, spousal support is only available to married spouses.

When one spouse becomes financially dependent upon the other spouse because of the marriage, divorce can create significant inequality for the dependent spouse. 

In order to alleviate the negative impacts of the divorce, the Divorce Act allows for the vulnerable spouse to apply for spousal support (or alimony) in order to temporarily maintain his standard of living established during the marriage until he/she can regain economic independence, in so far as practicable . It is a protective measure.

Unlike child support, spousal support is not based on guidelines or a mandatory form in Quebec. However, there are optional guidelines that can help establish spousal support. The amount is calculated based on the financial resources of the parties, the needs of the spouse seeking support and the other spouse’s ability to pay.

The Divorce Act establishes several criteria to be assessed which include the following:

  • the length of the relationship;
  • the roles of each spouse;
  • any financial impact related to the marriage or separation; 
  • any financial consequences arising from the care of any child of the marriage;
  • any economic difficulties faced by a spouse resulting from the marriage of separation;  
  • when possible, promote the economic independence of each spouse within a reasonable delay.

Make an appointment with us to find out if you qualify for spousal support or child support and if you should be paying any of these amounts. Our lawyers can also help you adjust any child or spousal support amount and request the cancellation of child or spousal support in accordance with the provisions of the Law.

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