In simple terms, extraordinary expenses are additional childcare expenses that are not included in the amounts paid for child custody every month. Parents who spend less than 40% of the time with their children are often required to cover the costs of caring for the child by making child support payments.
The set basic monthly amounts of child support are determined by the Child Support Guidelines and the child support tables provided by the Canadian government. The amount the parent pays is based on their gross income and the number of children they must support. There is a particular table for Ontario parents. Any special or extraordinary expenses are not covered in the table amount.
Examples of extraordinary expenses
- Daycare or childcare fees, especially when the parent needs to go to work or school
- Medical and dental insurance premiums paid by the other parent for the child
- Other health expenses such as prescriptions, eyeglasses, counselling, etc
- School and educational programs that the child requires such as tutors or private school fees
- Post-secondary education expenses
- Costs of extracurricular activities such as sports classes
In many cases, parents who generate roughly the same income will divide the cost of these extraordinary expenses equally. In other cases, the parent may need to ask the other parent to pay more.
When extraordinary expenses are taken to court, the court must determine whether the expense is reasonable and necessary.
Please also review our case law chart that shows common examples of how Ontario judges have treated claims relating to extraordinary expenses: Extraordinary Expenses Chart.
Showing the expense is reasonable
The court will look at both your income and the monthly child support being paid as well as the extracurricular programs that your children go to and how much they cost. They will also consider whether these extra expenses were part of your family spending pattern before your divorce or separation. The court may still allow the expense even if it wasn’t part of your spending before the separation if it’s in your child’s best interests and you and your partner can afford it.
Showing the expense is necessary
As a parent asking for special or extraordinary expenses, you must show that these expenses are necessary. This means that you must show that the expenses are in the best interest of your child. For instance, if you must pay a tutor, you must show that your child needs extra help. If you need to pay for extracurricular classes, your child should display a special talent.
Is your child dependent?
Special or extraordinary expenses are only paid for dependent children. Sometimes a child is considered a dependent even after turning 18. However, a child is no longer considered a dependent after he/she marries or leaves home voluntarily and withdraws from parental control. If a child is forced to leave, this will not be considered a withdrawal from parental control. The parent will still be required to be responsible for supporting the child.
Children who are above 18 years old can still be considered dependents if:
- He/she is disabled or has a chronic illness
- He/she attends school full-time (usually their first undergraduate degree or diploma)
Child support is likely to last until the child turns 22 or completes their degree or diploma.
Dividing special or extraordinary expenses
Sometimes parents choose to share the cost of their child’s special or extraordinary expenses depending on their income. If the other parent’s income is slightly higher, he/she may pay more towards these special expenses. If the child is above 18, they may also contribute to their special expenses, and the remaining amount is divided by both parents.
To make the process of dividing special expenses easy for parents, the person asking should provide sufficient information such as:
- An explanation of what each expense is for
- The total cost of each special expense
- The date the payments are due
- Receipts if any
You and your partner must come clean about your income before you can decide how to divide your special or extraordinary expenses. Amicably agreeing on financial matters can save your family from court battles and give your children a more comfortable transition after the divorce or separation.
For additional information on section 7 expenses, please see the following article: A Closer Look Into Extraordinary Expenses.
For real examples of section 7 expenses in court, please see our Chart on Section 7 Expenses.