There are two types of child support set out in the Federal Child Support Guidelines: the basic monthly amount and section 7 expenses. The basic monthly amount covers costs such as food, clothing, and housing and the section 7 expenses cover costs for special or extraordinary expenses.
Section 7 expenses must fall within the list of expenses set out section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines. Even if the expenses are set out, they must also be necessary and reasonable in relation to the ability of the parents to pay such costs, the ability of the child to pay such costs, and the family’s spending pattern before separation.
The list of expenses in section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines includes:
- child care expenses where the parent needs someone to care for the child so they can work, obtain education or training for work, or because they are ill and/or disabled;
- insurance premiums for medical and dental coverage for the child;
- health-related expenses not covered by a health care plan such as orthodontics, professional counselling, speech therapy, physiotherapy, prescription drugs, hearing aids, and glasses;
- extraordinary expenses for primary school or secondary school or for any other educational programs that meet the child’s needs, such as private school and tutoring
- post-secondary education expenses; and
- extracurricular activities, if they are extraordinary.
If an expense falls within the above list, the Court will determine if the expense is necessary and reasonable. To determine if the expense is necessary and reasonable, the Court considers the details of the expense such as estimates or receipts, details regarding the need for the expense, and how reasonable the expense is given the amount of basic monthly child support being paid, the parents’ incomes, the special needs or abilities of the child, and any other relevant factor. The parent who wants a contribution from the other parent for such an expense must prove the expense is a section 7 expense.
Courts have found section 7 expenses include university expenses such as tuition, books and room and board, music lessons, private school, dental expenses, school-related trips, hockey costs, and summer camps used for daycare during the summer months. Some examples of expenses that have not qualified as section 7 expenses include costs for driver training, vitamins and supplements, costs of extra-curricular expenses, and cell phone plans.
What qualifies as a section 7 expense for one family may not qualify for another family under different circumstances. The Court has to decide what is necessary or reasonable for a particular family and the Court has a lot of discretion to make such a decision.
It is important to consult with an experienced family lawyer if you are considering a claim for section 7 expenses. Contact Nancy Brown today to assist with your family law matters.