Divorce & separation

How to write your own separation agreement

Section 3: Child support (Optional)

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Parents have a responsibility under the law to support their children, even if one parent doesn't see or take care of the children. The money one parent pays to the other parent to help provide for the children's daily needs is called child support.

The child support amount is based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Make sure the child support in your agreement follows these guidelines if:

  • you intend to file your agreement with the court, or
  • you intend to have it incorporated into a court order (for example, a divorce order).

Otherwise, the judge might not enforce the agreement or make the divorce order.

If you do something different from what's required under the guidelines, make sure your agreement makes it clear how each parent meets their responsibility to financially support the children.

For more information, including how to calculate support under the guidelines, see our fact sheet Child support.

The same rules apply about child support apply to Aboriginal parents as non-Aboriginal parents. But one important difference applies to Aboriginal parents who are status Indians and may not be required to pay income taxes. In these cases, the court will "gross up" the income of the parent paying child support to make sure the children get an appropriate amount of child support.

See our Aboriginal Law in BC website for more information.

An agreement about child support is binding (legally effective) only if it's made after separation or when the parties are about to separate.

This section includes some common child support paragraphs for you to choose from. Not all possibilities are covered. The CLEBC manual covers more options.

Your basic information

  1. In the Short name text boxes, enter the short names for you and the other party. These should be the same as the short names you entered in the Introductory clauses.
  2. In the Child/children's names text box, enter the names for your children.

Once you've entered your names, they will appear throughout the paragraphs below in place of Party 1, Party 2, or Name.

 

Child/children's names:

 

Agreement on guideline income

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When you use the guidelines, start by figuring out the payor's "guideline income." Usually this is the payor's gross (before tax) yearly income.

In some situations, the recipient's income is also needed to figure out what the payments will be. This happens most often when:

  • there are special or extraordinary expenses, or
  • when each parent has the children at least 40 percent of the time.

For more information, including information on how to use the guidelines, see our Child support fact sheet.

Tip: Remember that all the paragraphs below are automatically included in your text file unless you click Don't include. If you change your mind, you can always include the paragraph again by clicking Include.

  1. Decide whether both the payor's and the recipient's guideline income is needed. Click Don't include next to the recipient's name, if applicable.
  2. In the paragraphs for the payor and, if applicable, the recipient, in the text box, enter that party's yearly income.

Party 1's yearly income for determining child support under the Federal Child Support Guidelines is

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Party 2's yearly income for determining child support under the Federal Child Support Guidelines is

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Regular child support payments

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Ordinary expenses are covered by the guidelines table amount (basic support). Special or extraordinary expenses are also considered child support. But they're paid in addition to the basic table amount. See below for information on special or extraordinary expenses.

One parent has sole guardianship or most of the parenting time

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Include this option if the children are with one parent all or most of the time. If this doesn't apply to your situation, click Don't include and move on to the next section.

  1. Click the name of the party with whom the children will primarily live with. The field updates to show that party's name. The other party's name appears next to the amount text box.
  2. In the amount text box, enter the amount of child support the other party will pay. (This is usually the amount owing under the Child Support Guidelines.)

The children will live primarily with Name.

Child support will be determined under the Federal Child Support Guidelines.

Name will pay per month to support the children.

Party 1
Party 2
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Shared parenting

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Include this option if the children live with each parent an equal or almost equal amount of the time. See What is the 40 percent principle? in our Child support fact sheet for information about how to figure out how much the adjusted amount would be.

If this doesn't apply to your situation, click Don't include for each paragraph and move on to the next section. If some or all of the paragraphs apply to you, follow the steps below.

  1. Decide which paragraphs apply to your situation. Click Don't include for the paragraphs that don't apply.
  2. For paragraph 6:
    1. Click the name of the party who will be paying child support. The field will update with your names.
    2. In the text box, enter the amount of child support.
  3. For paragraph 7:
    1. Click the name of the party who will be paying child support. The field will update with their name.
    2. In the first text box, enter the day of the month when they will be paying support (for example, first or second).
    3. In the second text box, enter the date they will start paying support.

Party 1 and Party 2 will share parenting time, and child/children will live with each of them at least 40 percent of the time.

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Child support will be determined under the Federal Child Support Guidelines.

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Party 1 will pay to Party 2 as child support the following:

per month, and

Party 1's share of the special or extraordinary expenses under this agreement.

Party 1
Party 2
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Name will pay child support on the day of each month, starting .

Party 1
Party 2
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Special or extraordinary expenses

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The Child Support Guidelines say that each parent is required to contribute to the special or extraordinary expenses of raising the children. For more information, see What are special and extraordinary expenses? in our Child support fact sheet.

If there aren't special or extraordinary expenses, click Don't include for each paragraph and move on to the next section. If there are special or extraordinary expenses, follow the steps below.

  1. Decide which paragraphs apply to your situation. Click Don't include for the paragraphs that don't apply.
  2. For paragraph 10:
    1. Click the name of the party who will be paying special or extraordinary expenses. The field updates with your names.
    2. In the text box, enter the amount that party will pay. Specify whether it's per month, year, or a total amount. For example, $350 per month.
  3. For paragraph 11:
    1. Click the name of the party who will be paying special expenses. The field will update with their name.
    2. In the first text box, enter the day of the month they will be paying special expenses (for example, first or second).
    3. In the second text box, enter the date they will start paying special expenses.
  4. For paragraphs 13 – 16, in the text boxes, enter a description of the special or extraordinary expenses.
  5. For paragraph 17:
    1. In the first text box, enter the month and day of each year that you and the other party will review the expenses and payments.
    2. In the second text box, enter the number of days the parties will have to pay their share of the expenses if they miss a payment.

Party 1 and Party 2 will share the costs of special or extraordinary expenses in proportion to each of their guideline incomes.

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For the purpose of calculating Party 1 and Party 2's share of any special or extraordinary expenses, the amount of the expense will be calculated by taking into account any tax benefit or subsidy for the expense.

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Name will pay to Name as Name share of the special or extraordinary expenses for child/children.

Party 1
Party 2
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Name will pay their share of the special expenses, on the day of each month, starting .

Party 1
Party 2
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The following are the special or extraordinary expenses currently agreed upon by the parties. The parties may agree to change this list.
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By of each year Party 1 and Party 2 will review all expenses and payments and make sure each of them has paid their share of the special or extraordinary expenses for the previous year as set out in this agreement. If one party has not paid their share, they will pay the amount owed to the other party within days.

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Medical and dental expenses

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This section sets out who will be responsible for medical and dental insurance, and medical and dental costs not covered by insurance.

In BC, many employers provide extended health and dental insurance as employment benefits. These benefits are in addition to coverage under the Medical Services Plan (MSP). Some employers also cover the monthly fee for MSP coverage. We call this medical coverage.

Most employee plans end coverage for an employee’s spouse when couples separate, but continue to cover dependent children.

If you don't have coverage through an employer, you'll have to figure out how you'll cover the cost of medical and dental expenses for your children.

  1. Decide which paragraphs apply to your situation. Click Don't include for the paragraphs that don't apply.
  2. For paragraph 19:
    1. Click the name of the party who will get extended health and dental insurance. The field's update with their name.
    2. Decide whether that party will either "get and maintain," or "maintain" medical insurance. In the text box, delete any text that doesn't apply.
    3. Decide whether that party will provide extended health insurance. If not, delete the text in the text box.
  3. For paragraph 20, decide the type(s) of insurance you and the other party will maintain. In the text box, delete any that don't apply.

Party 1 and Party 2 will share the children's medical and dental expenses equally (over and above insurance coverage) and will not incur any expense over $100 without the consent of the other party.

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Name will medical, , and dental insurance that is available through Name's employment for children until Name's obligation to pay child support under this agreement ends.

Party 1
Party 2
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Party 1 and Party 2 will:

  • each maintain that is available to them through their employment for children; and
  • share, in proportion to their adjusted guideline incomes, all of the children's medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance.
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Prior child support

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In many cases, the payor has already been paying child support to the recipient before they sign a final agreement. The amount paid is often based on an estimated amount while the parties gather the information needed to figure out the proper amount to be paid.

If the amount paid has been less than it should be under the Federal Child Support Guidelines, your agreement might include a single payment to make up for the amount of child support that should have been paid for that period. This is called retroactive child support. You may agree that no retroactive child support is owed.

If this doesn't apply to your situation, click Don't include for each paragraph and move on to the next section. If some or all of the paragraphs apply to you, follow the steps below.

  1. For paragraph 21, if you have both agreed that a retroactive payment isn't necessary, click the name of the party who is paying child support. The field is updated with your names.
  2. For paragraph 22:
    1. Click the name of the party who will be paying the retroactive child support. The field updates with your names.
    2. In the text box, enter the amount of retroactive child support the party will pay.

Party 1 is not required to pay Party 2 retroactive child support for the period of time before this agreement.

Party 1
Party 2
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Party 1 will pay Party 2 to adjust for the difference between the amount of prior child support paid and the amount that should have been paid for that period as determined under the Federal Child Support Guidelines.

Party 1
Party 2
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When child support ends

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It’s a good idea to set out when the child support will end. The paragraph here reflects the current law. It allows you to specify an age at which you both agree child support will end. Your child must be at least 19, but they could be older if:

  • they will continue to be dependent because of a disability, or
  • they're at school.

For more information, see our fact sheet When does child support end?

If this doesn't apply to your situation, click Don't include and move on to the next section. Or, if it does apply, in the text box, enter the agreed-upon age.

Child support under this agreement ends when a child becomes

  • a spouse,
  • self-supporting, or
  • years old.

However, if a child who meets any of the conditions above cannot support themselves because of illness, disability, or the pursuit of education, the parties will review and determine child support for that child based on the child’s actual and reasonable needs and expenses, less the amount that the child can be expected to contribute to their own support.

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Sharing information and reviews

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Since child support payments are based on income, it's a good idea to include information about regularly exchanging financial information.

In the option below, the payor must provide income information every year, if the recipient asks for it. If the recipient's income information is used to determine the amount of child support, the payor can also request that the recipient provide income information once a year.

The type of information required will be different, depending on the source of income. The example(s) in the box apply to situations where the payor is an employee.

If this doesn't apply to your situation, click Don't include for each paragraph and move on to the next section. If some or all of the paragraphs apply to you, follow the steps below.

  1. Decide which paragraphs apply to your situation. Click Don't include for the paragraphs that don't apply.
  2. For paragraph 24, in the text box, describe when the payor will give the recipient financial information. (See examples for guidance.)
Party 1 and Party 2 will each provide the other with:
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A photocopy of the most recent personal [and corporate] income tax returns, with all tax information slips and schedules

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The notice of assessment, when received

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Details of child tax benefits or other similar benefits received in the previous year and anticipated in the coming year, if known

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Particulars of child’s special or extraordinary expenses anticipated for the coming year

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The most recent annual statement of earnings, including overtime

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Any other information needed to figure out if the child support amount being paid under this agreement should be changed

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Obligation to notify

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Court cases (case law) say you must tell the other party about any material (significant) change of circumstances that might affect child support obligations. The most common example of a material change in circumstances is a change in either of your incomes.

Include the following paragraph in your separation agreement if you want to make this clear.

Each party must notify the other immediately upon becoming aware of a material change of circumstances that may affect child support obligations.

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Review and adjustment

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Since child support is based on your income, you may want to include an automatic review every year (or less often) to make sure the amount being paid still makes sense.

  1. Decide whether an automatic review applies to your situation:
    1. If not, click Don't include.
    2. If so, in the text box, change "British Columbia" to the payor's province if the payor doesn't live in BC.
  2. Review all of the information you've included throughout this section to make sure it's correct. Then:
    1. Click Open text version. A text copy of this section of the agreement will appear in a new browser window.
    2. Copy and paste the text into a word processor.
    3. Go through the section and number each paragraph/clause. Continue the numbering from where you left off with the previous section. Be sure to save your file.

If Party 1 and Party 2 do not review the child support as provided above, or review the child support and do not vary it in writing, both parties are deemed to consider that the child support continues to satisfy the requirements of the Federal and Child Support Guidelines.

Any adjustment to child support under this clause will not apply retroactively, but will be in effect from the date of review.

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