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Our top* Child Support Extraordinary Expenses lawyers handle hundreds of medium to high net income child support cases across Western Canada. Lorne N. MacLean, QC holds the record for one of Canada’s highest combined child and spousal support award of nearly $100,000 monthly in the case of Devathasan. In today’s blog Peter Graburn of our Calgary office explains how Child Support Extraordinary Expenses works in Vancouver and Calgary.

Section 7 Child Support “Extraordinary Expenses”

It is a well-established principle of family law in Canada that there is a duty (of both parents) to pay child support – child support is the right of the child. Both the federal Divorce Act (affecting divorced parents) and the Alberta Family Law Act (affecting both divorced and never-married parents in Alberta) as well as the case law confirm this principle. But what does child support actually consist of?  The types of child support (as well as how much and how it will be paid) are set out in the Federal Child Support Guidelines (and corresponding provincial legislation), which define two (2) types of child support one of which relates to Child Support Extraordinary Expenses:

Section 3 Child Support – Section 3 child support is the monthly amount set out in the Child Support Guideline tables (therefore sometimes called the “table amount”) designed to assist with the most basic costs of raising children including food, clothing and shelter (therefore sometimes also called “base support”). The Section 3 child support amount set out in the Guideline tables is designed to create simplicity and uniformity in child support awards while ensuring that the basic ordinary costs of raising children are being met;

Section 7 Child Support – also described as Child Support Extraordinary Expenses as anyone who has raised children knows, “food, clothing & shelter” are not the only costs of raising children.  Some families have costs and expenses of raising children that are beyond the ordinary, and are therefore “extraordinary”. Section 7 of the Child Support Guidelines sets out these extraordinary expenses (hence called “Section 7 Expenses” or sometimes “Special Expenses”) expected to be shared (usually on a proportion of total income) between the parents of the child(ren), including:

  • Child care expenses – expenses incurred as a result of the custodial parent’s employment, illness, disability, education or training for employment (ie. day-care, before and after-school care, etc.);
  • Medical and dental insurance expense – that portion of medical and dental insurance premiums attributable to the child;
  • Medical and dental expenses (not covered by insurance) – uninsured health and dental expenses (that total more than $100.00 a year) including orthodontic treatment (braces), professional counselling, therapy (physio, occupational or speech), prescription drugs, hearing aids, glasses          and contact lenses;
  • Extraordinary school expenses – expenses for primary and secondary school (public and private schools) or other education programs that meet the child’s particular / special needs. This does not include ordinary, annual school fees for materials and supplies, lunches, bussing, etc.;
  • Post-Secondary Educational expenses – expenses for post-secondary school (ie. college or university) education including the cost of tuition, residence and books and supplies. This can               (under the Divorce Act) include beyond the first university level degree (ie. beyond age 23).  The      adult child is also expected to contribute to these costs as much as possible; and
  • Extracurricular Activities expenses – expenses for children’s out-of-school activities including sports, clubs, lessons and other organized activities.

Furthermore, Section 7(1) of the Guidelines states that for any expense claimed to be shared by the parents as a special or extraordinary expense, the expense must be:

necessary as they are in the child’s best interest;

reasonable in relation to the financial means and expenses of the parents and of the child, and;

consistent with the family’s spending patterns prior to the separation.

As discussed above, the tables contained in the Child Support Guidelines have mostly taken the fight out of Section 3 (“food, clothing & shelter”) child support. Justice Canada has some useful info here.

Child Support Extraordinary Expenses

This often means disagreements between separated parents regarding financial support of their children is in regard to those additional “special” or “extraordinary” (Section 7) expenses. Unfortunately, there are no similar tables or lists of what is/is not a Section 7 expense; by definition, these expenses are not the same for all families – what is considered a special / extraordinary expense for one family may not be a special / extraordinary expense for another family. Separated parents may resolve these disputes by agreement (ie. by the Maintenance Enforcement Program’s Section 7 Expense Agreement form) or have to go to Court to determine whether an expense should be considered a special or extraordinary expense and whether the parents should be sharing that expense.

Calgary Extraordinary Child Care Expense Lawyers assist their clients to understand the duties and obligations to pay child support and the different and sometimes confusing types of child support and expenses that may (or may not) have to be paid by each separated parent.

Our Child Support Extraordinary Expenses lawyer operate out of 6 offices across BC and in Calgary Alberta.

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