Child Support Guidelines
In Manitoba, the amount of child support is determined by following the rules and the tables contained in the Manitoba Child Support Guidelines. The Manitoba guidelines apply in most cases, except when the court makes a child support order under the federal Divorce Act, where one of the parents lives outside Manitoba. In that case, the Federal Child Support Guidelines apply. When the parent who is responsible to pay child support lives in Manitoba, the Manitoba child support table applies.
Child Support Tables
What are Child Support Tables?
The Manitoba Child Support Guidelines set out how the court and the Child Support Service must calculate child support. The guidelines contain tables of child support amounts and the rules for using the tables. Manitoba has its own rules about how to use child support tables, but the tables are the same as those used under the Divorce Act. For information on the Federal Child Support Guidelines tables, go to: https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/fl-df/child-enfant/ft-tf.html
There is a separate table for every province and territory. The variations between provinces and territories are a result of different tax rates. The table to use is the one for the province where the paying parent lives. There are different rules when the paying parent lives outside Canada or cannot be found. In that situation, the table for the province where the recipient lives is used.
The tables set out the monthly amount to be paid. The amount depends on the total annual income (before taxes) of the paying parent and the number of children to be supported. For example, under the current Manitoba tables, if the paying parent lives in Manitoba, earns $30,000 a year, and the order is for three children, the paying parent will be required to pay $571 per month.
What are special or extraordinary expenses?
In some circumstances, additional amounts may be added to the basic table amount of support for certain special or extraordinary expenses. The expenses that may be claimed are:
- child care expenses that the primary caregiver has because of work, school, training, illness or disability
- health-related expenses over $100 per year above any insurance coverage, including medicine, dental care or glasses; the portion of medical and dental insurance premiums attributable to the child
- extraordinary expenses for primary or secondary school or other educational programs the child needs
- post-secondary education expenses
- extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities
The following questions help to determine if additional amounts should be added for any of these types of expenses:
- Is the expense necessary for the child?
- Is the expense reasonable, considering the parents’ respective incomes and how the family spent its money before the separation?
In deciding an amount for special or extraordinary expenses, any financial assistance the parent with the majority of the parenting time gets for the expense (e.g., a tax deduction for child care expenses) and both parents’ incomes are considered. As a general rule, the parents share the special expenses proportionately, based on their respective annual incomes above a certain minimum level.
For example, if the paying parent earns twice as much as the receiving parent, and the expense is $75 per month, the paying parent will pay an extra $50 support. If the parent with the majority of the parenting time has little or no income, the paying parent may pay more, up to the total of $75. If the exact amount of a special expense is not known, an amount can be estimated.
Income and Financial Circumstances
How is income determined?
The table amounts vary according to the paying parent’s total annual income before taxes. This includes the paying parent’s income from all the same sources of income that a person must report in a tax return (e.g., employment, pensions, business, professional, commission, rental, farming, fishing, workers’ compensation and social assistance benefits).
For parents whose only income is from employment, gross pay is used. This is the amount of money an employee receives before any taxes and deductions are taken out. However, the guidelines do allow the addition and subtraction of some items, such as union and professional dues.
The Child Support Service will estimate the amount the person is likely to receive in the current year, based on their present earnings and other income, and what the person has earned in the past three years.
Amounts that a person shows on a tax return do not always show a person’s true ability to pay support. For this reason, the guidelines allow the service to add an amount to a person’s income (impute income) in some circumstances.
For example, a parent who is not required by law to pay income tax has more disposable income to pay child support than a person who must pay tax. The service may add an amount to take this into account. Similarly, where a parent quits a job to avoid paying support, the service can say the parent’s income is the same as it would have been if the person had not quit their job.
What is financial disclosure?
The amount of child support relates to the paying parent’s income, and in some cases, to the recipient parent’s income. The guidelines require the paying parent in all cases, and the recipient parent in certain cases, to provide certain financial information to the other parent on request. Generally, a parent must provide income information where it is necessary to decide the amount of child support. The request must be in writing and can be made only once a year, unless there is a child support application before the court.
Under new court rules that came into effect in February 2019, whenever a child support application is made to the Manitoba court, both parents must file a sworn financial statement with the court. The statement includes copies of Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) income and deduction printouts showing the parent’s income for each of the three most recent taxation years, as well as proof of year-to-date income from all sources. The court may also require the parents to file additional financial information, based on the circumstances of the case. If a parent fails to file this disclosure, that parent may be unable to proceed with their court application.
How do consent orders affect child support?
The Child Support Service will request:
- copies of the last three years of filed income tax returns with the Notice of Assessment that were issued by the Canada Revenue Agency
- current pay or benefits statements; and
- the completion of a Financial Statement.
Where there was a termination of employment, lay-off or work related injury then a record of employment will be required along with confirmation of benefits such as Employment Insurance (EI), Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), Workers Compensation (WC) or Employment and Income Assistance (EIA) benefits.
The Canada Revenue Agency or Service Canada online service portals can be used to apply for copies of documents. For section 7(1) special or extraordinary expenses, copies of receipts, invoices and cancelled cheques will be requested to verify the expense amounts.
For more information, visit the Child Support Applications section of this website.
What if a paying parent’s income is over $150,000?
Where the paying parent’s income is over $150,000 per year, the table amount may be appropriate or the table amount for the first $150,000 can be the starting point. An additional amount of support, if any, may be reasonable in relation to the amount of the paying parent’s income over $150,000. In these situations, looking at the total financial picture, including both parents’ incomes, is important
What is undue hardship?
A court order can be made for more or less than the amount in the guidelines, if it is determined that the guidelines amount would cause undue hardship to the parent or the child. For example, a paying parent who has to support a child from another relationship, a paying parent who has unusually high costs in order to exercise parenting time with the child, or a recipient parent who has unusually high basic living expenses, might claim undue hardship.
The parent claiming undue hardship must also show that the standard of living of their household would be lower than the standard of living of the other parent’s household if the guidelines amount were paid. This means that the financial circumstances of all members of the parents’ households, including new partners, can be looked at.
How does split parenting time affect child support?
When the parents have a split parenting arrangement – i.e., each parent has the majority of the parenting time with one or more of their children – child support is calculated by figuring out how much each parent would pay to the other for the children in the other parent’s care. The difference between the two amounts is the amount of support the parent who would have to pay more actually pays to the other parent. For example:
Robin and Jules have three children. Robin has two of the children in their care the majority of the time, and Jules has one of the children in their care for the majority of the time. Jules earns $30,000, so they would pay a table amount of $421 to Robin for the two children. Jules also pays $50 a month for special expenses, for a total of $471. Robin earns $20,000, so they would pay a table amount of $121 for one child. The difference between the two amounts is $350. Therefore, Jules would be required to pay Robin $350 per month.
How does shared parenting affect child support?
If the parents have shared parenting, child support is calculated differently. To have shared parenting, each parent must have the child at least 40 per cent of the time over the year. In these situations, while the table amounts must be considered, they do not have to be followed.
It is necessary to look at the increased costs of a shared parenting arrangement and the complete financial situation, including both parents’ incomes, and the needs of the child. This may result in the paying parent paying more or less than the table amount, or the table amount plus special expenses, so the amount will be fair and reasonable.
How is child support for Children over 18 determined?
The guidelines also allow a more flexible approach in deciding support for children over 18 years old if the guideline table amount is inappropriate. For example, it may be appropriate to take into consideration the income the child has from part-time jobs and scholarships, and any additional living expenses the child may have because they attend university away from home.
What about child support for step-children?
Where the paying parent is a step-parent, or another person standing in the place of a parent, the amount of support depends on what is appropriate, taking into account the guidelines and the parents’ duty to support the child.
Agreements and Court Orders
How do special provisions affect child support?
Where there are special provisions in an agreement or an order that benefits the child, the court does not have to follow the guidelines, if doing so would be unfair, considering the special provisions. For example, the court might decide it should not order the guidelines amount where the paying parent agreed to transfer the family home to the recipient parent, and the recipient parent agreed to accept less monthly child support because of that.
How do consent orders affect child support?
Parents may agree to child support different from the guidelines, but the court will not order the different amount unless it is reasonable. The court will look at the child support guidelines and the financial information the guidelines require the parents to file with the court. (See the section on Financial Disclosure that follows.) If the court does not think the agreed upon amount is reasonable, the court may order a different amount or refuse to grant a divorce until the parents agree to an amount that is reasonable or agree to have the court decide the proper amount
What is retroactive support?
A decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2006 confirms that the court generally has the authority to order retroactive child support, which means that child support will be ordered to start as of a past date. The court must consider a number of factors before deciding whether or not to do so, including:
- the reason(s) why support was not sought earlier
- the conduct of the paying parent
- the circumstances of the child
- hardship caused to the paying parent by a retroactive award
Parents who are required to pay child support should know that if they do not pay child support when they have a legal obligation to do so, or if their income increases and they do not advise the other parent, they could be ordered to make retroactive payments at a later date.
Are the Federal Child Support Guidelines different than the Manitoba Child Support Guidelines?
The Federal Child Support Guidelines are the same as the Manitoba guidelines in most respects. The table amounts were updated as of November 22, 2017. In most cases, the current tables will be used, but occasionally, such as in an application for retroactive child support, it may be necessary to look at the former tables.