Your Guide to Child Support and Section 7 Expenses

April 1, 2024 Plat Simionati

Your Guide to Child Support and Section 7 Expenses

Disclaimer: This article aims to provide educational information surrounding Section 7 Expenses. It is not intended to serve as legal advice. Consult with a lawyer and exercise your discretion before taking action based on the information provided in the blog.

Every child has the legal right to support from their parents – whether their parents are married, separated, or divorced. 

When separating or divorcing, one of the most significant conversations will be surrounding child support. As we discussed in a previous article, your child support amount is determined by the Child Support Guidelines. It is comprised of two different amounts: 

  • The basic monthly table amount (based on the Child Support Table, which covers basic living expenses such as food, clothing, and shelter) and 
  • Section 7 expenses. 

This article will discuss Section 7 expenses and factors that family courts consider when determining whether they are necessary. 

What are Section 7 Expenses?

Under the Child Support Guidelines, the courts can order a parent to cover certain expenses related to the child’s well-being. These expenses are above and beyond the table amount or base child support.  

Examples of Section 7 child support expenses may include: 

  • Childcare expenses
  • Medical and dental insurance premiums
  • Health expenses not covered by insurance, like therapy or prescription drugs
  • Special education or other educational needs
  • Post-secondary education expenses
  • Costs for extraordinary extracurricular activities

Expenses for education or extracurricular activities are seen as extraordinary if they either exceed what you can afford based on your income and the child support you receive, or even if they don’t exceed your budget, they’re still considered extraordinary when taking into account:

  • The type and quantity of educational programs and extracurricular activities
  • The total expense of these programs and activities
  • Any unique needs or talents your child may have.

We will look more closely at post-secondary costs in a future article. 

How is support for “special or extraordinary expenses” calculated?

The amount of child support owed for special and extraordinary expenses is calculated proportionately to each parent’s income (after considering any subsidies or tax credits). 

Let’s illustrate using a basic example: 

Frank and Pat equally share parenting time for their child, Cindy. Cindy participates in gymnastics; both parents agree that this should continue. The cost of gymnastics is $5,000 per year. Frank has an annual income of $100,000, and Pat earns $90,000.  

How much would Frank contribute to Cindy’s gymnastics? His income is roughly 53% of their combined income. Therefore, his proportionate share of the gymnastics cost ($5,000) is $2,631.58 or $219.30 monthly. 

(Of course, this is simply an example. Each situation is unique, and it is best to reach out with the details of your family’s needs and child support payments.) 

What if parents disagree about whether an expense is necessary?

In the above example, both parents agreed that the expense was necessary for the child’s well-being. However, what happens if one parent disagrees or disputes the necessity of the cost? What factors do the courts consider in such an instance?

According to the Child Support Guidelines, a Section 7 expense must:

  • Be essential for the child’s well-being.
  • Be deemed reasonable based on the parents’ financial capabilities, the child’s specific needs, and align with the family’s spending habits prior to separation.

It’s not simply a question of whether these are considered extraordinary expenses. The courts will also consider whether or not the parents can afford the activity and if it was consistent with the parents’ lifestyle before the separation. 

Factors that the courts consider

The courts may order that an expense is: 

  • Special or extraordinary and reasonable
  • Special or extraordinary but not reasonable or necessary 
  • Not special or extraordinary. 

Consider some examples. 

Are driving lessons an extraordinary expense? In Armstrong v. Armstrong, the court ordered that the cost of the child’s driver’s course was reasonable and necessary. However, in Zimmerman v. Doe, the courts factored in the high monthly child support being paid and determined that it did not qualify as a Section 7 amount.  

Music lessons are typically considered a Section 7 expense under Ontario family law; however, in some instances, the size of the expense or the means of the parents led the courts to rule otherwise. 

Summer camps may be considered a Section 7 expense, but the courts have discussed the cost, the parent’s employment status, and the age of the children in their decisions. 

Negotiating child support with Plat Simionati LLP 

When it comes to child support and Section 7 expenses, it’s crucial to have the right guidance. That’s where a trusted family law firm like Plat Siminoati LLP comes in.

Every family situation is different, so understanding your rights and obligations is vital for your children’s well-being. Whether you’re trying to figure out what counts as an extraordinary expense or dealing with disagreements with your co-parent about these costs, having experienced family law attorneys on your side can provide clarity and advocate for your needs.

Our experienced family law lawyers are here to offer personalized legal advice and support, making sure your children’s best interests are always the top priority in the complex world of family law.