Definitions for support payments
An allowance is a specific sum of money established in a court order or written agreement. It states the amount the payer has to pay to the recipient. It can include a sum that has to be adjusted based on a formula or index (such as the cost-of-living index or a percentage of the payer's income), even though the exact future amounts are not specified in the order or agreement. An allowance must be payable on a periodic basis to be considered support payments.
A child can be one of the following:
- a person, born within or outside marriage, of whom you are the legal parent
- a person who is wholly dependent on you for support and of whom you have (or, immediately before the person reached the age of 19, had) the custody and control
- a child of your spouse or common-law partner
- a spouse or common-law partner of your child
- Common-law partner
Your common-law partner is a person to whom you are not married, with whom you are in a conjugal relationship, and to whom one of the following situations applies. They:
- have been living with you for at least 12 continuous months. This includes any period you were separated for less than 90 days because of a breakdown in the relationship
- are the parent of your child by birth or adoption
- have custody and control of your child (or had custody and control immediately before the child turned 19 years of age) and your child is wholly dependent on that person for support
- Court order
A court order is a decree, order, or judgment made by a court, such as a family law court or other competent tribunal.
A payer is a person who makes support payments to a recipient under a court order or written agreement. A payer can be one of the following:
- the recipient's current or former spouse or common-law partner who is living separate and apart from the recipient because of a breakdown in their relationship
- the parent of a child of whom the recipient is a legal parent
- Periodic payments
The term "periodic" means there is a series of payments, but does not necessarily mean "frequent." For example, the payments could be made monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually. The court order or written agreement must set out the timing of the payments. Only a new order or agreement can change the payment schedule.
A recipient is a person who receives support payments from a payer under a court order or written agreement. A recipient can be one of the following:
- the payer's current or former spouse or common-law partner who is living separate and apart from the payer because of a breakdown in their relationship
- the parent of a child of whom the payer is a legal parent
A child cannot be considered the recipient of support payments for income tax purposes.
You are separated when you have been living apart from your spouse or common-law partner because of a breakdown in the relationship for a period of at least 90 days and you have not reconciled.
Once you have been separated for 90 days (because of a breakdown in the relationship), the effective day of your separation is the date you started living apart.
You are still considered to have a spouse or common-law partner if you were separated involuntarily (not because of a breakdown in your relationship). An involuntary separation could happen when one spouse or common-law partner is living away for work, school, or health reasons, or is incarcerated.
Your spouse is the person to whom you are legally married.
- Written agreement
Under a written agreement, a person agrees to make regular payments to support their current or former spouse or common-law partner, children of the relationship, or both. The written agreement should normally be signed and dated by both parties.
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