Children’s Special Expenses ( Section 7 Expenses )
Increasing support payment on the account of special expenses
According to the Guidelines the court may, on account of special or extraordinary expenses, order added child support in an amount higher than the one defined in the Child Support Guidelines chart. The Guidelines list six different types of such expenses:
a. Child care expenses. These have to be incurred as a result of the custodial parent's employment, illness, disability or educational training for employment.
b. Health and medical expenses which are attributable to the child.
c. Health related expenses that exceed the healthcare reimbursement by at least $100.00 annually.
d. Extraordinary primary or secondary school education expenses. Although post secondary school expenses will routinely be included in child support as add-ons, elementary or secondary school costs will only be included if they are extraordinary expenses. There are numerous court decisions indicating the struggle that the parties and the lawyers and the courts have in determining whether individual expenses qualify as an add on. These situations have to be dealt with on a case by case basis.
e. Post secondary education. A non-custodial parent may be required to contribute to a child's reasonable post secondary expenses. There is no need to prove that they are extraordinary or special, the issue usually centers around the child's ability to contribute towards his or her own education and whether the claimed expenses are reasonable having regard to the parties means. It probably isn't reasonable for a child from an average working family in Ontario to decide to go to UCLA with no scholarship and expect his or her parents to contribute. This is a matter of common sense and applies to intact and separated families equally.
f. Extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities. This section has generated a great deal of controversy and is also comes down to a case by case determination based on the individual child and the family's history.
Annual Disclosure of Special Expense Details
Effective March 1, 2010 all support orders in Ontario require annual updating of income. Specifically all orders contain the following cause:
For as long as child support is to be paid, the payor and recipient, if applicable must provide updated income disclosure to the other party each year, within 30 days of the anniversary of this order, in accordance with section 24.1 of the Child Support Guidelines.
Section 24.1 of the Child Support Guidelines specify that the tax return for the most recent year, including any materials included in the return such as T4 slips and the Notice of Assessment or Reassessment from CRA MUST be supplied to the other party each year. In addition, the parties MUST supply current information in writing about the status and amount of any special expenses ( section 7 expenses ) and details of any student loans, scholarships or bursaries that will affect a court order for post-secondary expense contributions.
Support recipient’s will have great difficulty securing an increased contribution toward special expenses ( section 7 ‘s ) or post-secondary costs if this annual disclosure requirement has not been followed. Obtaining retroactive payment of special expenses will be problematic.
Apart from these new mandatory requirements in Ontario, most separation agreements contain clauses which require the parties to annually exchange tax information and special expense details.
The risk of ignoring this annual disclosure requirement can be financially devastating.
Recipients should register with the Support Information Exchange ( SIX ) www.yoursix.ca in order to protect themselves. SIX is designed to help parents organize, manage and comply with their child support responsibilities.