Anne McFarlane – November 2017
Both the federal and provincial Child Support Guidelines grant judges of our Courts the authority to order a sharing of special and extraordinary expenses. As this is found in section 7 of both pieces of Guidelines, these expenses are commonly referred to as “Section 7 Expenses” in family law proceedings.
Section 7 of the Guidelines sets out what specific expenses would be shareable, which include:
- child care expenses that are required due to a parent’s employment, illness, disability, education or training for employment;
- medical and dental insurance premiums paid on behalf of the child;
- health-related expenses that exceed insurance reimbursement by at least $100 per year;
- extraordinary expenses for primary or secondary school education or for any other educational programs that meet the child’s particular needs;
- expenses for post-secondary education; and
- extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities.
The amount that will be shareable between the parties will be the net cost of the expense. This means that any tax deductions, subsidies, benefits, or scholarships will be taken into account when deciding what amount will be shared.
The starting point for how these expenses are shared is in proportion to the parties’ income. This means if the parties’ incomes are equal, they will share the expense on a 50/50 basis. However, if one party makes 80% of the total income, a proportionate sharing would result in them paying 80% of the expense. Although this is the guiding principle for how these expenses are shared, a judge has the authority to order what specific sharing they deem appropriate in each case.
To be shareable under section 7, the costs associated with primary or secondary schooling and extracurricular activities must be “extraordinary.” This term refers to an expense that cannot be reasonably covered by a parent, taking into consideration the particular circumstances of the family. These include:
- The parents’ incomes;
- The child’s special talents or needs;
- The number of activities in which the child is involved;
- The overall cost of the expense; and
- Any other factor the judge considers appropriate to consider.
This will be very fact-specific, as what is deemed “extraordinary” in one case may not be in another.
Section 7 is clear that the sharing of these expenses is discretionary. If the matter proceeds to Court, the judge has the ultimate authority to determine if and how much of these expenses are reasonable and shareable between the parties.
If you have any questions about how Section 7 expenses should be handled in your situation, then please contact MDW Law for a consult to review your questions.