What are support payments?

Answer a few questions to find out if the payments made or received are considered support payments.

Questions and answers

A support payment is an amount payable or receivable as an allowance on a periodic basis to support the recipient, children of the recipient, or both.

There are two types of support payments:

  • spousal support
  • child support

The tax rules are different depending on the type.

Spousal support is to support a current or former spouse or common-law partner as stated in a court order or written agreement. The support payments are made only to support the recipient.

Child support is to support a child, or a child and a current or former spouse or common-law partner, as stated in a court order or written agreement. The support payments are not only made to support the recipient.

Support payment conditions 

Your payment is considered a support payment if the following five conditions are met:

  1. The payment is a specific amount made to the recipient according to a court order or written agreement.

    Note
    A written paternity agreement is not valid on its own, even if it is registered with the court. Paternity agreements must be a court order issued by a court or a tribunal in accordance with the laws of a province.
     
  2. If the recipient is the payer’s current or former spouse or common-law partner, the payer is living separate and apart from the recipient at the time the payment is made because of a breakdown in the relationship. Otherwise, the payer must be the legal parent of a child of the recipient.

  3. The payment is made to support the recipient, the child of the recipient, or both. The recipient can use the payment at their discretion.

  4. The payments are payable on a periodic basis. The timing of the payments must be set out in the court order or written agreement.

  5. The payments are made to the recipient or to an agent enforcing the collection of the amount.

Exceptions

In certain situations, your payments are considered support payments even if they do not meet the above conditions. These situations may arise when any of the following situations apply. The payments are:

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