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Frequently asked questions about child support

If there is one thing that all parents know, it is that children, despite the priceless happiness they bring, are expensive. And child support is there to remind you of that.

In Quebec, child support is very regulated and constitutes a matter of public order: no one can waive it. To set child support when both parents live in Quebec, a standardized form is used which takes into account the income of both parents, the number of children, parental time and special expenses to arrive at a determined amount. by a scale pre-established by the government.

However, it is sometimes difficult to find your way around. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions on the matter:

Do we have to pay child support?

Yes! If you have a child, you must pay child support if that child does not live with you all the time and you no longer live with the other parent.

However, if your financial means are very limited, if you face excessive constraints or if you exercise joint custody with the other parent while having similar income, the amount of child support may be low or nil.

Please note, if you are partially or totally deprived of your parental rights, you nevertheless retain a support obligation towards your child and will have to continue to pay child support for his benefit.

I have just lost my job, can I request a reduction in the amount of child support?

The law provides that in the event of a significant change in your financial situation, you can appeal to the court to have the amount of child support reduced. The reverse is also true: if your income has increased significantly, your ex may ask for an increase in the child support you pay him.

It is important to note that any change does not automatically lead to a right to adjustment of the maintenance payment accordingly: it must be a significant and lasting change, such as a loss of employment followed by a long period of unemployment, for example.

It is possible to make this request without going to court in certain situations, thanks to the governmental body Service Administratif de Radresse des Pensions Alimentaires (SARPA).

What are special expenses and how can they be distinguished from other expenses incurred for children?

Any money spent on the children is not to be shared with the other parent. Indeed, most of the usual costs are considered to be covered by the child support paid by the other parent.

Certain costs, more substantial, are however distinguished and can be shared in proportion to the parents' income, special costs. According to case law, these are generally found in three main categories:

(1) Education costs, such as private school or tutoring fees;

(2) Medical, paramedical and dental expenses not covered by insurance, such as consultations with a psychologist or osteopath;

(3) Expenses for cultural and sporting activities, such as piano or soccer lessons, if these cost a significant amount;

It is possible to dispute certain particular expenses, especially if one of the parents was not consulted before the other incurs the said expenses, nevertheless it must be remembered that the number one criterion of any family request is the best interest of the child and not the preservation of the parents’ wallet, within reason of course.