How do I claim spousal support?

A client of mine got divorced and was required to make child and spousal support payments.  We claimed the spousal support as a deduction and reported the child support in previous years.  Last year the children were not attending school so the child support stopped.  We continued to claim the spousal support as before, however, CRA did not allow the deduction as child support was not paid.  (This does not make sense to me, but it was CRA’s answer.)  For the client to claim the support, they would need to get a new divorce agreement indicating that there is no need for child support.  This may cost more in legal fees than the benefit of the tax deduction.


The question my client has is:  should they pretend to pay the child support and continue to deduct the spousal support? Or should they not claim the spousal support (as income for the recipient or deduction for the payer)?  I expect that if we claim the spousal support but not the child support the deduction will be disallowed but the income will continue to be counted effectively double taxing the same income.


The client was not "claiming" child support as a deduction.  However, in Profile you have to include the child support on the Support input screen and indicate that zero is tax deductible.  CRA checks to see that the child support is paid using this screen.  In the past year, no child support was paid because the children were over 18 and not attending school.  However, the divorce agreement did not specify an end date for the child support and so CRA claims that the child support should continue to be able to claim the spousal support.  Is something seriously wrong here, yes.  I cannot understand why CRA disallows the spousal support because the child support was not paid.

The question is what to do in the future.  Should the client (and ex-spouse) lie, indicating that child support was paid for the client to get the tax deduction for spousal support?  Or should the client just not claim the deduction for spousal support.  If the later, will CRA follow-up and assess the ex-spouse as receiving the spousal support even though the client did not claim the deduction?  (This is effectively what happened last year.)

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