Finances & Support common questions

Children are entitled to be supported by their parents if they're under 19, or if they're 19 or over but can't support themselves because of illness, disability, or some other reason, such as going to school full-time. That means that sometimes parents who're separated or divorced must still financially support their children even after those children are legally adults (at age 19).

See When does child support end? to find out more about this.

Child support is based on the child support guidelines. These are a set of tables and rules that courts must use to decide on how much child support a payor has to pay.

See Child support for general information about child support and the child support guidelines. It also explains how to use the tables to work out how much you might have to pay.

And see When does child support end? for information about how long you might have to pay child support.

No, a new spouse of a payor is not responsible for making support payments. And usually the income and assets of a new spouse (of either a payor or a recipient) aren’t considered when child support amounts are being worked out.

The amount of child support is based on:

  • how much the payor earns,
  • how many children they have to support, and
  • where they live.

If one parent makes a claim of undue hardship, each parent's household income is considered. That includes the incomes of new spouses. But that still doesn't mean that a payor's or recipient’s new spouse becomes responsible for making child support payments. See Child support for more information about this.

If a child's parent separates from their new spouse, the new spouse might have to pay child support if they're considered to be a step-parent to the children under the BC Family Law Act. See Step-parents' rights and responsibilities for more about this.

The Ministry of Human Resources has a policy that it won't apply for support from your spouse against your wishes if you or your children are in danger of violence from your spouse.

Tell your employment assistance worker or family maintenance worker if you're worried about a violent spouse. And speak to an advocate before you go to the interview. Find an advocate near where you live on the PovNet website.

When it comes to dividing property and debts, couples who've lived together in a marriage-like relationship (you might call it being in a common-law relationship for two years are treated like married couples.

This means you equally share all the property you got during your relationship. If you buy a house while you live together, the house is considered family property, no matter whose name is registered on the title.

If you break up, you divide the property equally unless either of you paid some of the down payment or mortgage from money you had before you got together, or from an inheritance or gift to one person. That money will often be considered excluded property. You get your excluded property back and divide what's left equally.

If either of you bought property before you moved in together, you share the increase in value of the property since you started living together. (So, if the property increased in value by $100,000 during the time you lived together, you'd get $50,000 each.)

But if this would result in significant unfairness, a judge can order the increase to be divided in a different way.

To find out more about dividing property after you separate, see:

See Who to call and Where to go for information about different people and places that can help.