Definition of section 7 expenses
These expenses refer to section 7 of the Child Support Guidelines (the “Guidelines”) which speaks to the provision of child support in addition to the usual monthly table child support. According to the Guidelines, section 7 expenses are discretionary and can be ordered by the court on a party’s request. In ordering a spouse or parent to pay these expenses, courts will consider (i) if the expense falls within one of the enumerated listed expenses, (ii) the necessity of the expense in relation to the child’s best interests, (iii) the reasonableness of the expense in relation to the means of the parents or spouses and those of the child, and (iv) the spending pattern of the parents or spouses in respect of the child during cohabitation.
Types of section 7 expenses – special or extraordinary expenses
According to the Guidelines, the following are expenses that a parent or spouse could claim under section 7:
- childcare expenses incurred as a result of the employment, illness, disability or education or training for employment of the parent or spouse who has the majority of parenting time;
- that portion of the medical and dental insurance premiums attributable to the child;
- health-related expenses that exceed insurance reimbursement by at least $100 annually, including orthodontic treatment, professional counselling provided by a psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist or any other person, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, prescription drugs, hearing aids, glasses and contact lenses;
- extraordinary expenses for primary or secondary school education or for any other educational programs that meet the child’s particular needs;
- expenses for post-secondary education; and
- extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities
Distinction between extraordinary and special expenses
The Guidelines further provide a two-part definition of what constitutes an extraordinary expense (to differentiate this from a special expense). Extraordinary expenses can mean expenses that exceed those that a parent or spouse can reasonably cover, considering their income and the amount of child support they would receive. Extraordinary expenses can also refer to expenses that the court considers to be extraordinary taking into account:
- the amount of the expense in relation to the income of the parent or spouse requesting the amount, including the amount that the parent or spouse would receive in child support,
- the nature and number of the educational programs and extracurricular activities,
- any special needs and talents of the child,
- the overall cost of the programs and activities, and
- any other similar factors that the court considers relevant.
Extraordinary expenses are concerned with the cumulative financial impact of the expenses on the parent or spouse, rather than single expenses at a time—special expense. Regardless of whether an expense is special or extraordinary, all expenses under section 7 must be proved to be necessary and reasonable by the party claiming them.
Courts consider all factors before ordering Section 7 expenses
A parent or spouse claiming a section 7 expense has the onus of proving each element of the expense to the court as defined above.
In Costescu v. Costescu (2014 ONCJ 218) Justice Curtis stated that the onus to prove a section 7 expense was on the parent seeking contribution for that expense. She further intimated that the party claiming the expense had to demonstrate that it was reasonable and necessary.
In Bhupal v. Bhupal (2013 ONSC 60) the parties were married for 16 years and had one child. The respondent, the father, who had an annual income of $313,000 initiated variation proceedings seeking, inter alia, the elimination of section 7 expenses related to nanny expenses. The court held that the expense of the nanny was not necessary to allow the applicant to work and was not an allowable section 7 expense. The court ordered that the respondent was no longer required to contribute to the cost of the nanny.
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