childsupport, section 7, family law, extraordinary expense

How extraordinary expenses work

Section 7 Extraordinary Child Support Payments

When people with a child or children separate or divorce, child support payments are often a part of two parents living separately. While there is a federal table

that outlines child support guidelines, there are other expenses that fall outside of regular child support payments. These special child support payments for non-ordinary things are called Section 7 (the section of the legislation) or extraordinary expenses.

What are Section 7 Child Support Payments For?

The objectives of the child support guidelines are to be fair and reasonable in terms of allowing children to benefit from the financial ability to pay of both parents. They were set out in order to reduce conflict between parents and make the determination of child support payments more efficient by setting specific guidelines. Extraordinary expenses are an extension of these principals as set out in the Federal Child Support Guidelines.

How Do The Courts Define Special Child Support Payments?

The courts are often called on to determine extraordinary expenses. There is no table or chart that lists out what are included in extraordinary expenses. The factors that an Alberta court will look at primarily include:

  • Necessity: Are the costs being claimed as a section7 expense necessary and in the child’s best interests? The court will looks at special gifts or needs of the child or children.
  • Reasonable: As every family has a different financial picture, the courts will look at how reasonable an extraordinary expense is in relation to the family’s income and other expenses.
  • Consistency: Lastly, the court will look at if the special child support payments being requested are consistent with the expenses and lifestyle that formed part of the family’s expenses prior to the parents separating.

What Are Examples Of Extraordinary Expenses in Alberta?

  • Health care expenses such as glasses, hearing aids, braces, prescriptions, psychologists
  • Medical and dental insurance payments
  • Post secondary education expenses
  • Private schools
  • Tutoring
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Daycare or after school care fees

What Expenses Are Not Special Expenses?

Extraordinary or special expenses are just as the name implies to be a proper section 7 expense. These are non-regular expenses needed to help raise the child or children. Examples of expenses that would not constitute a section 7 expense include costs associated with: regular meals, laundry, day to day clothing, normal school costs, babysitting, allowance, etc.

Expenses Not Clearly Section 7 Or Regular Support?

Not all extra expenses for the child fall into the category of a Section 7 expense. Expenses which are often a point of contention include: school fees and supplies, bus passes, cell phones, major clothing items (winter boots / jackets), clothing items required for sports and extra-curriculars which are not overly expensive.

In the primary parenting situation some expenses are deemed to be responsibility of the parent receiving support by virtue of them receiving the full base support amount pursuant to the calculator. Often the cost and frequency of the expense is considered in light of how much monthly support is being paid to the primary parent. Is it reasonable that the ‘extra expense’ be paid from the monthly support being paid?

In a shared parenting situation parents will often agree that additional expenses such as major clothing items, all extra-curricular, school supplies, school fees and cell phones are to be split either 50/50 or as a Section 7 expense. It is important this is agreed upon in advance of being incurred.

The law is not clear on what will be a Section 7 expense if the expense does not clearly fall under the Section 7 language. Furthermore, judges have consistently varied on what they each think is an appropriate section 7 expenses. Some will allow cell phones and others will not.  Because of this it is always best to discuss and agree with your partner on what is a Section 7 expense prior to incurring it. If the expense does not clearly fall within the parameters of a Section 7 expense the parent who paid for the expense initially may never be compensated if the issue is before a judge.

Child support payments have increased in Alberta. Read this link to find out more.

How are Extraordinary Expenses Split Between Parents

Extraordinary expenses are split based on the income that each parent has. For example, if both parents have an equal income, then the special child care expenses will be split equally. If one parent earns $25,000 and the other parent earns $75,000, then the extraordinary expenses will be split 25% by the lower income earner and 75% by the higher income earner.

Need Help Negotiating, Determining or Securing Section 7 Expenses?

The family law lawyers at Kahane Law Office are very familiar with special / extraordinary child support expenses. Our Calgary lawyers help client with negotiation of what a valid special expense is, appear before the court to determine valid expenses and help secure payment of outstanding child support payments in needed. For more information or to set up an appointment to learn more about claiming or refuting these expenses, call today. We can be reached in Calgary, Alberta at 403-225-8810 and/or email us directly here.