Many clients find the concept of child support and extraordinary expenses (commonly referred to as section 7 expenses) confusing, and it’s no surprise. These can be tricky to understand, so let’s break it down fairly simply for you here and give you a better understanding.
In Ontario, child support is intended to cover a child’s basic needs such as housing, food and clothing. There are provincial Child Support Guidelines which are calculated based on a predetermined formula and set of criteria in most cases. When calculating child support, the number of dependent children and the payor’s gross annual income are taken into consideration. There are exceptions, and it’s always best to consult with a family law lawyer to be sure of your rights and obligations.
Section 7 expenses, commonly referred to as special or extraordinary expenses comes from Section 7 of the Family Support Guidelines. Unlike child support, these expenses are specifically laid out by the divorcing parties and are intended to cover such costs not expected to be covered by child support, such as child care/daycare, medical and/or dental insurance premiums, costs related to educational purposes, post secondary expenses and extracurricular activities agreed upon by both parents.
Section 7 expenses can be divided based on an agreed upon percentage. For example, one divorcing couple may agree to split these expenses 50/50 where others may split them 60/40, 80/20 or however it has been agreed upon either by the parties or by court order.
It’s important to make a list of what you think the special and extraordinary expenses should be, because these may come down to part of your negotiations. While at the time of separation, perhaps your children are quite young and the only section 7’s could be daycare and swimming lessons for example. Remember when drafting your agreement however, that your children will not stay this age forever, as much as we may want them to. They won’t always require daycare and they may not always take swimming lessons or dance class. It’s important to think ahead to what some of the future costs will be that can be reasonably deemed a special or extraordinary expense. Cell phones, laptops and other electronic devices for example, should be considered, along with things like driving lessons, auto insurance and tutoring, should your children need it as they progress in their education.
Thinking ahead and listing possible expenses can save you many headaches and costs down the road.
If you have questions regarding child support or section 7 expenses, Family Matters Mediators and Counsellors are here to help answer any questions you may have, and provide you with the support and guidance you need during your divorce process. We truly believe in putting family first. Contact us for more information and see how we can help you.