Child Support

BC Child Support

The BC child support information below is provided by our highly rated and reviewed British Columbia child support lawyers who have handled hundreds of BC Child Support cases, is general in nature and not intended to be a substitute for legal advice concerning BC Child Support. We have 4 offices across BC and help high net worth clients in Calgary, Alberta as well. It is not a simple matter to determine whether an individual is or will be liable for BC child support in cases other than sole custody particularly when extra and special expenses for children are concerned. If you are concerned that you may be liable for BC Child support or wonder whether you are able to claim BC child support following a separation, please contact our offices.

Upon a separation, a person may be required by the court to provide support for a dependent BC spouse or BC child. If the parties agree, support can be provided through a separation agreement.

The rules relating to child support apply equally to opposite-sex and same-sex relationships.

Lorne MacLean, QC with Paralegal Rosanna Lin

Lorne MacLean, QC with Paralegal Rosanna Lin

The Amount of Support

In all cases, the amount of child support is calculated on the basis of Child Support Guidelines, which stipulate the support payable. The amount of support is based on the income of the non-custodial parent, generally without regard to the income of the custodial parent. However, in cases of shared custody and in cases of hardship claims the incomes of both parents and possibly their new partners can be relevant.

The amounts for support can be calculated under our free support calculator and in 2006 and again in 2011 the amounts changed, Click here for more information.

In addition to a basic amount of child support, the court can also order the parents to share the cost of such additional expenses as day-care, medical and dental expenses, university education and extracurricular activities.

In BC, child support is generally paid until a child is 19 years old, although the payments can continue beyond the age of 19 if a child remains dependent because of illness, disability or the pursuit of post-secondary education.

It is important to be aware that child support is not tax-deductible and is not taxable income for the parent receiving the support. However, a good lawyer will explain your ability to deduct legal fees related to claiming or changing child support under some specific circumstances.

Who is Liable to Pay Child Support?

Typically, the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent for the care and maintenance of the child. Whether an individual qualifies as a parent and is liable for support is determined under either the federal Divorce Act or the British Columbia Family Relations Act.

If the parties are unmarried or do not wish to divorce, child support is governed by the Family Relations Act.

Where the parties are married and intend to divorce, child support may be sought under either the federal Divorce Act or the Family Relations Act. The Court will make an order pursuant to the legislation that is most favourable to the interests of the child.

The Divorce Act

Under the Divorce Act, a person ending a marriage may be required to pay support for a child of the marriage.This phrase is defined broadly and includes children who are:

  1. A child of both of the spouses;
  2. A child for whom both the spouses stand in the place of a parent; or
  3. A child for whom one spouse is a parent and the other spouse stands in the place of a parent.
  4. Special rules apply for self employed persons to ensure fair child support is paid and it is key you call us on this complex area. Click Here to read an article on how a company owner ‘s support is calculated..

In determining whether a person “stands in the place of a parent” the Court will look at the following factors:

  1. Whether the child participates in the family as would a biological child;
  2. Whether the person provides financially for the child;
  3. Whether the person disciplines the child as a parent;
  4. Whether the person represents to the child, the family, the world, either explicitly or implicitly, that the person is a parent to the child; and
  5. The nature or existence of the child’s relationship with the absent biological parent.

The Family Relations Act

If the parties are not married at the time of separation, are not seeking a divorce, or an application is brought pursuant to the Family Relations Act, a different test applies to determine whether a person is obligated to pay child support.

Under the Family Relations Act, it is not necessary for a person to “stand in the place of a parent” in order to be liable for support. Instead, a person who is neither the biological or adoptive parent of a child may be liable for child support if the person has made a financial contribution towards the support of the child.

An individual becomes a “parent” and thereby liable to pay support if they are a guardian of the child or if the person is a “stepparent” of the child and contributed to the support of the child for at least one year.

A person is a stepparent under the Family Relations Act if:

  1. The person is or was married to a parent of the child; or
  2. The person lived with the parent of the child in a marriage-like relationship for a period of at least two years.

To recover support from a stepparent, it is necessary to commence proceedings within one year after the last date that the stepparent contributed to the support and maintenance of the child.

The Contribution Period
The one year period of contribution to the maintenance and support of the child need not be a continuous period. It may include contributions before marriage to the birth parent. It is not relevant whether the marriage occurred before or after the birth of the stepchild.

Sharing household expenses is generally considered a contribution sufficient to give rise to an obligation of child support. Trivial or sporadic expenditures, however, are not generally considered a contribution. Similarly, a stepparent’s occasional kindness or generosity towards the stepchild will not give rise to a support obligation. However, where a stepparent puts the child on his or her medical benefits plan, that may be considered a sufficient contribution to give rise to a duty of support.

Extent of the Obligation
The obligations of the stepparent are not secondary to those of the birth parents. However, the obligation to pay support must be apportioned fairly between the birth parents and other persons who are liable to pay support. In some cases, where there are several persons obligated to pay child support and the circumstances otherwise warrant it, the Court may consider a stepparent’s support obligations to be discharged.

New 2013 FAMILY LAW ACT Changes For Step  Parents

Our new Family Law Act deals with the thorny issue of Step Parent Child Support.

The current and past step parent child support case law balanced the need for all “parents” including step-parents to support a child at the standard the child enjoyed in the intact relationships he was part of since birth. The concept of the biological parent having an equal if not higher burden than a step parent to support a child and not being entitled to a “free Pass” whereby the biological parent was not pursued to pay their fair share has developed in recent years notably in the BC Court of Appeal case of UVH. Over the years we have successfully argued a variety of sides of this issue including termination or reduction of step parent support on the grounds that a step parent has more than met their liability. We are pleased to see many of our arguments over the years have made their way into new legislation on step parent child support liability. The area is complex and the stakes are huge  so call us at 1-877-602-9900.


Commencing- March 18, 2013- new step parent laws under our new Family Law Act are:

Duty to provide support for child

147 (1) Each parent and guardian of a child has a duty to provide support for the child, unless the child

(a) is a spouse, or
(b) is under 19 years of age and has voluntarily withdrawn from his or her parents’ or guardians’ charge, except if the child withdrew because of family violence or because the child’s circumstances were, considered objectively, intolerable.
(2) If a child referred to in subsection (1) (b) returns to his or her parents’ or guardians’ charge, their duty to provide support for the child resumes.
(3) If a guardian who is not the child’s parent has a duty to provide support for that child, the guardian’s duty is secondary to that of the child’s parents.
(4) A child’s stepparent does not have a duty to provide support for the child unless
(a) the stepparent contributed to the support of the child for at least one year, and
(b) a proceeding for an order under this Part, against the stepparent, is started within one year after the date the stepparent last contributed to the support of the child.
(5) If a stepparent has a duty to provide support for a child under subsection (4), the stepparent’s duty
(a) is secondary to that of the child’s parents and guardians, and
(b) extends only as appropriate on consideration of
(i) the standard of living experienced by the child during the relationship between the stepparent and his or her spouse, and
(ii) the length of time during which the child lived with the stepparent.

For more information, Click Here for ABOUT CHILD SUPPORT