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Child Support – Overview of Special or Extraordinary Expenses (a.k.a. S. 7 expenses)

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Written By Allison R. McAlpine

When people think of child support, they usually think about the regular monthly payment of child support based on the payor’s income and the number of children to which the support applies. In addition to this regular monthly payment, each parent is obligated to contribute to a child’s special or extraordinary expenses (also known as “add on expenses” or “s. 7 expenses”) under section 7 of the Child Support Guidelines.

How much will each parent contribute?

This is typically based on the income of each parent as a ratio of the combined incomes of the parents. For example, if Dad earned $100,000 per year and Mom earned $50,000 per year, Dad would pay 66.66 percent of the expenses which was calculated as follows:

Dad’s income ($100,000) divided by the parties’ combined incomes ($150,000) = 66.66%.

This is the Guiding principle of calculating each parent’s contribution, but Courts have discretion to Order any amount.

What Expenses Apply and Don’t Apply?

It is up to a Judge (or the parties on agreement) as to what expenses apply or do not apply. The following expenses are listed as s. 7 expenses:

  1. Child care expenses incurred as a result of the custodial parent’s employment, illness, disability, or education or training for employment;
  2. That portion of medical and dental insurance premiums attributable to the child;
  3. Health related expenses that exceed insurance reimbursement by at least $100.00 annually;
  4. Extraordinary expenses for primary or secondary school education or for any other educational programs that meet the child’s particular needs;
  5. Expenses for post-secondary education; and
  6. Extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities.

In determining what amount a parent is to contribute to such expenses, if any, the Court will take into account the necessity of the expense in relation to the child’s best interests and the reasonableness of the expense in relation to the means of the parents and those of the child, and to the spending pattern of the parents in respect of the child during cohabitation.

For any expenses listed as “extraordinary” in the above list, the court must consider whether the parent requesting contribution can reasonably cover the expense taking into account that parent’s income and the amount that the parent is to receive in monthly child support. Alternatively, a court can consider:

  1. The amount of the expense in relation to the income of the parent requesting contribution including any child support ordered;
  2. The nature and number of the educational programs and extracurricular activities;
  3. Any special needs and talents of the child;
  4. The overall cost of the programs and activities; and
  5. Any other similar factors that the court considers relevant.

As you can see, a Court has wide discretion to determine the amount that each parent will contribute to a s. 7 expense, and also what s. 7 expenses will apply.

It is imperative that an agreement or court order not only address ongoing regular monthly child support, but also address s. 7 expenses to fully meet the financial needs of the child(ren).

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