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Repartnering and remarriage are extremely common after separation or divorce. Will a new partner’s income affect child support or spousal support payments? Today’s article will answer some of the top FAQs relating to a new partner’s salary calculation for support purposes.


Is my new partner's salary calculated for child support payments?

Your new partner brings a new stream of income into your household. Does that factor into child support payments or disqualify you from receiving child support payments? The quick answer is no. A new partner’s income is not generally included in calculating child support but in certain limited circumstances it may be a factor.


The primary legal duty to support a child lies with the child’s biological parents—not the new partner. The amount of child support is typically based on how much the paying parent earns, how many children they must support, and where they live (see here for a child support calculator) as well as the parenting arrangements. You will note that the child support calculator does not have a box for inputting your new partner’s salary.


Are there situations where a new partner’s income does count for child support?


Yes, there are a few situations where a new partner’s salary is considered when calculating child support. For example:

Shared parenting arrangements. In the majority of these situations, child support is calculated as a “set-off” under s. 9 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Each parent’s child support obligation is calculated and then the higher earning parent pays the lower earning parent the difference between their respective guideline support obligations. However, the court can order a different amount after considering:

(1) the increased costs of shared custody arrangements; and

(2) the conditions, means, needs and other circumstances of each spouse and of any child for whom support is sought. A new partner’s salary may be considered in relation to the financial circumstances of each spouse but the new partner is not liable to pay child support.

Undue hardship claims. If one parent makes a claim of undue hardship, each parent's household income is considered. A new partner’s income is relevant to the standard of living in a household, whether you are the paying parent or the parent who receives child support payments. The new partner’s income is factored in when comparing households but the new partner is not personally liable to pay child support.

Special or extraordinary expenses. A new partner’s salary may be taken into consideration when determining each parent’s contribution to section 7 expenses. Canadian family law requires the consideration of the reasonableness of an expense in relation to the means of the spouses which can include the financial contributions of a new partner.

Aside from the above specific circumstances, it is important to note that a new partner does not become responsible for making section 7 or child support payments.


Does my new partner have to pay child support if we break up?

If you later separate from your new partner, they may have a legal duty to pay child support for your child from a previous relationship but only if they meet the definition of a “stepparent” under BC family law. The primary responsibility for child support lies with the biological parents of the child but a stepparent can also be responsible for child support if they lived with and contributed to the support of the child for at least one year. The court will look at factors such as the child’s standard of living when they lived with the stepparent and how long they lived together. See here for our previous article on stepparent legal responsibilities.


Is my new partner's salary calculated for spousal support payments?

Spousal support payments do not automatically end if the recipient spouse has a new partner or remarries. But it may trigger a review of spousal support payments and could reduce or terminate spousal support obligations. Entitlement to spousal support can be needs based, for example, where one spouse earns $30,000 and the other spouse earns $300,000. In those situations, the need for financial support from an ex-spouse may be ecreased or eliminated in light of a new partner’s income. The new partner provides support and contributes to household expenses, lessening financial need.


Do I have to pay spousal support if my ex is living with someone in Canada?

Your ex moving in with a new partner does not automatically terminate spousal support obligations. The impact of cohabitation with a new partner must be determined on a case-by-case basis. Your ex’s entitlement to spousal support (the reason they qualified for spousal support when your relationship ended) is a key factor in whether the new partner’s income has any impact on your ex’s entitlement to spousal support or the amount you pay.


Spousal support can also be compensatory. This would occur if one spouse stepped away from the workforce to raise children. In this situation, a new partner’s income is less likely to change existing spousal support payments.


Spousal support can be compensatory and/or non-compensatory. The type of spousal support you receive or have to pay will be referenced in the trial decision or detailed in your Separation Agreement.


Is spousal support based on gross or net income in Canada?

The answer depends on whether or not child support is also being paid. The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG) has two formulas: the “with child support” formula and the “without child support”formula. The “without child support” formula uses gross income of both spouses, then factors in the number of years the spouses lived together and the recipient spouse’s age. The “with child support” formula uses net disposable income (“NDI”) of each spouse. The payor spouse’s net disposable income is calculated based on their gross income, minus taxes and their child support obligation, including tax credits for spousal support. The recipient spouse’s net disposable income is calculated based on their gross income, minus taxes and their notional child support obligation plus any government benefits they receive, less taxes payable for spousal support.


Is spousal support included in earned income?

No. For any child support order or agreement made after April 30 1997, the parent who receives child support does not include child support received as income and therefore does not pay tax on child support payments. The parent who pays child support can not deduct the child support payment from their income for tax purposes.


Do you want legal advice on your BC support issues?

We know that the legal process can sometimes be complicated and we want to make it easier for you. If you want clear advice from an experienced BC family lawyer with respect to child support or spousal support given your specific circumstances, contact Valerie M. Little Law Corporation. Ms. Little's practice is exclusively devoted to issues of family law in British Columbia. 


No matter what family law questions or issues you might be facing, you will receive attentive care and understanding at the office of Valerie M. Little. For more information about her family law office or to schedule a private in-office meeting or telephone consultation, please call her office at 604-526-3333 or send in the contact us form. At  Valery M. Little Law Corporation, Valerie and her staff listen, they understand, they care and they will act to resolve your family law issues. 

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