Section 7 Expenses

“Do I need to pay more than the amount required by the Ontario Child Support Guidelines?”

Often, yes. This will be the case if your children have any expenses known as “special or extraordinary expenses” or more informally, “add-ons.”

“What is included in special or extraordinary expenses (add-ons)?”

This is set out in section 7 of the Canada child support guidelines, which states that these expenses include:

(a) child care expenses incurred as a result of the custodial parent’s employment, illness, disability or education or training for employment;

(b) that portion of the medical and dental insurance premiums attributable to the child;

(c) health-related expenses that exceed insurance reimbursement by at least $100 annually, including orthodontic treatment, professional counselling provided by a psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist or any other person, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and prescription drugs, hearing aids, glasses and contact lenses;

(d) extraordinary expenses for primary or secondary school education or for any other educational programs that meet the child’s particular needs;

(e) expenses for post-secondary education; and

(f) extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities.

“So, do I need to pay extra for my child’s $10 sport activity fee?”

Probably not. You are required to pay for “extraordinary” expenses for extracurricular activities – not “all” expenses for extracurricular activities. The law is not clear exactly what is meant by “extraordinary.” However, the general trend is to look at the expense in comparison to the family’s income. Generally, a child will have some small fees for extracurricular activities, and these would not require additional child support. However, something such as horseback riding lessons can be quite expensive. For a family of modest means, this would probably be considered an extraordinary expense requiring an extra payment of child support. For a wealthy family, it might be expected that such expenses would be included in the normal amount of child support.

“What about RESPs?”

While it’s great to contribute to RESPs for your children, you aren’t required to do so, nor can you force the other parent to do so. This is so even if prior to separation you contributed to RESPs. However, note that once your children attend college or university, both parents are required to contribute to these costs.

“What about clothing?”

This is generally not a special or extraordinary expense (add-on).

“Do I need to pay all special or extraordinary expenses – I’m concerned that the other parent will simply enrol my children in several activities we just can’t afford.”

The expense must be “reasonable.” The law is not too clear exactly what this means. For instance, is private school reasonable? Generally, if the child was involved in the activity prior to separation, then you’ll likely need to continue to pay for it after separation. Also, if a child displays a particular aptitude at something – for instance, is a star hockey player – you may well need to contribute to the hockey expenses. Something like private school is more of a borderline case. If the child was in private school prior to separation, or there was a plan that the child would be, then you’ll probably need to pay for private school If your family is of modest means, then private school may be an unnecessary luxury for your child. However, if your child has special needs that can best be addressed by a private school, you may well be required to pay for this. This is an area in which you are best consulting a family law lawyer to examine the specifics of your case.

“How much of the special or extraordinary expenses (add-ons) will I need to pay?”

You and the other parent must share these expenses in proportion to your incomes. For instance, if you earn double what the other parent earns, you are required to pay 2/3 of these expenses, (double the 1/3 of these expenses the other parent pays).

“The other parent has incurred special or extraordinary expenses (add-ons) without my consent – do I still need to pay them?”

The reality is that the court looks at what’s best for the children – which normally means you must pay. If a parent unilaterally does something that’s very expensive – for instance, enrols your child in a $30,000 per year private school – then you may not be required to pay for this.

“I am incurring many special or extraordinary expenses (add-ons), but the other parent isn’t contributing his or her share – what can I do?”

You can always take legal action to get the other parent to contribute. However, this is a long and expensive process. Generally, it is best to wait until the expenses total a large enough amount that taking legal action makes sense. In the meantime, keep a proper paper trail of your consistent requests to the other parent to provide his or her contributions.

“When a child is attending university or college out of town, how is child support calculated?”

There are no rules for this, but generally two different approaches are used.

The first method is for the payor to pay guideline child support. If this occurred, then certain specified expenses for the child would be shared proportionate to income taking into account the child’s ability to contribute. These expenses would include tuition, books and related expenses. It would not be reasonable to pay both a full guideline sum and also pay for living expenses for the child.

The second method is to break up the school year into that portion when the child is in school and the months she is at home. For the months the child is at home guideline support would be paid. For the months that the child is at school the exercise would be to formulate her entire budget, deduct what the child can contribute and prorate the remainder between the parties proportionate to income.

Related Articles

  • Child Support Canada – How does the child support system in Canada work?
  • End Child Support – Many people do not realize when a court order is made for them to pay child support that it doesn’t end when the child turns eighteen.
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