An Overview Of Section 7 Of The Federal Child Support Guidelines And What Constitutes Child Support Expenses
The Federal Child Support Guidelines contain tables that enable families to determine an appropriate amount of base child support for their situation based on:
- the income of the paying parent
- the number of children
- the province in which the children live.
This base child support amount is a starting point only. The tables do not account for certain expenses that parents might incur for their children. These special or extraordinary expenses are addressed under Section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines.
Every family will have different child-related expenses. Some expenses will be covered by the base child support and others may not. Our Edmonton family lawyers can provide you with an overview of section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines and help analyze what constitutes appropriate child support expenses in your situation.
How To Determine If An Expense Is Extraordinary
All special or extraordinary expenses should be both necessary (in the child’s best interests) and reasonable given the family’s financial situation.
Whether or not an expense should be included as a section 7 expense will depend on:
- the nature of the expense and why it is incurred (for example, child care expenses incurred so a parent can work would be included, but child care expenses incurred for personal reasons would not)
- whether the parent who incurs the expense can reasonably afford the expense (or the total expenses for the child) based on their income, including whatever base child support they receive
- the family’s total income in relation to the expense (for example, private school tuition may be a reasonable expense for some families with a higher total income)
- spending patterns before the separation or divorce (if an expense was incurred for a child before the parents separated, it will likely be considered a reasonable expense for that family)
- a child’s special needs or special talents.
Common Section 7 Expenses
Expenses that parents incur that are commonly identified as extraordinary expenses include:
- child care
- health-related expenses such as eyeglasses, dental or orthodontic work that are not covered by insurance
- post-secondary education
- extracurricular activities
- primary or secondary school education such as tuition for private school, tutoring or field trips
- health-insurance premiums.
Calculating Your Share Of Section 7 Expenses
Who pays for section 7 expenses? Generally, these expenses are shared by the parents in proportion to their relative incomes. A good agreement relating to child support expenses will set out:
- the expenses the parents agree are special or extraordinary
- the approximate annual amount they intend or expect to spend on each special expense
- who will incur the special expense and when payments must be made
- how and when the parents will share the special expense.
In Alberta, the Maintenance Enforcement Program will enforce the payment of section 7 expenses, but court orders concerning these expenses must meet a certain level of specificity. Contact our Edmonton family law lawyers to ensure that you understand section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines and what constitutes child support expenses.
Contact Verhaeghe Law Office’s Family and Divorce Lawyers Today For Legal Advice On What Constitutes Child Support Expenses
If you require legal assistance from an Edmonton family lawyer, contact our law firm to book a consultation. Our Edmonton lawyers are proud to represent clients across Alberta. Verhaeghe Law has offices in Edmonton, Athabasca, and Whitecourt making it easier for residents of Alberta to access our services. Contact us today.
*Disclaimer: Please note the content prescribed in this article is only intended to act as a general overview on a legal topic. For specific legal guidance regarding family, we recommend you consult with an Edmonton family law lawyer for legal advice, as each situation is unique.