Paying or getting support after you separate or divorce

Child support

Child support is money one parent pays to the other to cover the costs of raising a child. It’s different than spousal support.

Provincial or territorial child support guidelines and laws apply if:

  • you and the other parent were in a common-law relationship
  • you and the other parent are married but separated

If you’re getting a divorce, federal support guidelines and laws apply.

When child support isn't paid

If a parent does not make agreed-upon support payments, this may damage his or her credit score.

Lenders use your credit score to decide how risky it is to lend you money. Landlords and employers may use it to decide if they will rent to you or give you a job.

There are a number of ways to make sure parents pay the required child support.

Child support and taxes

You need to consider child support payments when you file your income tax.

Note the following:

  • if you make payments, you can’t deduct them from your annual income
  • if you get payments, you can’t claim them as income

You still need to report all child support payments you make or get on your tax return.

Learn more about how much child support you can claim or report.

Spousal support

Spousal support is money one partner pays to another after they separate or divorce. It’s also called alimony or maintenance.

There are many factors that determine if you pay or get spousal support.

Federal law and guidelines apply to married couples who divorce.

Provincial and territorial laws and guidelines for spousal support apply to:

  • couples who were in a common-law relationship
  • married couples who are separated but not yet divorced

In Quebec, common-law partners aren’t eligible for spousal support when they separate.

Find provincial and territorial spousal support laws and guidelines.

Spousal support and taxes

You need to consider spousal support payments when you file your taxes.

Note the following:

  • if you make payments, you can deduct them from your income
  • if you get payments, you must claim them as income

You need to report all spousal support payments you get or make on your tax return.

Learn about spousal support payments and taxes.

If you pay or get spousal support in one lump sum, the rules may be different.

Find out if you must claim or deduct a lump-sum payment from your tax return.

Note that you need to file your spousal support agreement or court order with the Canada Revenue Agency. You also need to register any changes in support.

Learn how to register your spousal support agreement or court order.

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