Family Law Legislation, Rules, and Guidelines

The Family Law Rules

These are the Rules that everyone in family court needs to follow. Fortunately, they are set out in a pretty sensible order and you can usually find what you should know without much difficulty. But be sure to look over the entire Table of Contents because what you’re interested in might be included in more than one Rule.

The Family Law Forms

These are the Forms to be used as prescribed for the Rules. The Forms have the same number as the Rule that requires them.

The Family Law Act

This deals with support and financial, or property, issues. It talks about what needs to be in certain agreements and applies to both married and common law couples.

The Divorce Act

This only applies to married couples. It deals with support and child issues, but not property.

The Children’s Law Reform Act

This deals with custody and access regulations.

Federal Child Support Guidelines

This sets out the legislation governing child support.

Child Support Table Look-up

This is a way to put in the amount of money the support payor earns and the number of children in order to find out how much child support is to be paid. Technically, this only applies to child support matters raised under the Federal Divorce Act for married couples. But each province has enacted its own Child Support guideline that, except for Quebec, use the same wording and sections as the Federal Guidelines.So just referring to the “Guidelines” is good enough because they both say the same thing.

Ontario Child Support Guidelines

As with the other provinces, Ontario has enacted its own version of the Child Support Guidelines that are identical in wording and numbering to the Federal Guidelines. This is to cover common law couples or situations where the parents have no relationship other than shared parentage of the child.
People refer to “the Guidelines” or ”the child support guidelines” or “the CSGs” without worrying about whether they mean the federal or provincial Guidelines, because they have the same wording.

The Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act (FRO)

This is the legislation that governs the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) in connection with the collection of child and spousal support.

Spousal support sites you should know about


The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines

For practical purposes, in the vast majority of cases of separating parties, married or common law, The Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines (SSAG) are used by the courts to order, and by lawyers to negotiate, the amount of spousal support to be paid and for how long. The SSAG 2016 Revised User’s Guide has recently been released. At this writing the updated version isn’t yet on the government site or elsewhere – perhaps it will be by the time you’re reading this. But we have permission to post it here so long as we acknowledge, which we’re pleased to do, that the Department of Justice Canada is the source department.

(To find out the amount of support to be paid, in accordance with the SSAG, use MySupportCalculator, referred to next.)

The SSAG provides for a Low Range, Mid Range, and High Range figure for support and deciding which one to apply is often a matter of dispute.


This is the “lite” version of the software judges and lawyers use to calculate what the SSAG says is the appropriate amount of spousal support. This is a good way to get a pretty good idea of the amount of support you can expect a judge to order to be paid in your case, once you put in the appropriate data. It’s easy to use and well worth checking out.