Back to School and back to activities.
Now that summer is over, if you have children, you may find yourself dealing with all of the special and extraordinary expenses that come with signing them up for extra-curricular activities such as swimming, or other sports, before or after school care, possible tutoring, etc. This task can be overwhelming if you are a single parent and are unsure of how you are going to pay for all these things.
You may be wondering how much of these costs you can expect your ex-spouse to cover, and how much your share will be. To do this you will need to consider which of these expenses are “necessary” and which of them are “reasonable” if you expect a contribution from the other parent.
What are special or extraordinary expenses?
The Child Support Guidelines define “special or extraordinary expenses” as expenses that are:
- necessary because they are in the child’s best interests; and
- reasonable given the means of the parents and the child and in light of the family’s spending patterns before the separation.
Special or extraordinary expenses are:
- child-care expenses that you may have to pay as a result of a job, an illness, a disability, or educational requirements for employment if your child spends most of the time with you;
- the portion of your medical and dental insurance premiums that provides coverage for your child;
- your child’s health-care needs that exceed $100 per year if the cost is not covered by insurance (for example, orthodontics, counselling, medication or eye care);
- expenses for post-secondary education;
- extraordinary expenses for your child’s primary education, secondary education or any other educational programs that meet your child’s particular needs; and
- extraordinary expenses for your child’s extracurricular activities.
An expense for education or extracurricular activities is extraordinary only if:
- it is more than you can reasonably pay based on your income and the amount of child support you receive; or
- it is not more than you can reasonably pay, but it is extraordinary when you take into account:
- your income and the amount of child support you receive;
- the nature and number of educational programs and extracurricular activities; the overall cost of the educational programs and activities;
- any special needs and talents of the child; and
- any other similar factors that are considered relevant.
So what does this mean exactly? Well, what it probably means is that you will have to have a discussion with your ex.
In an ideal world, it is best if the two of you can agree on which special or extraordinary expenses are reasonable and necessary in your situation. After all, your child’s needs are changing as they grow. If you have been separated for a while, you may have different needs for the kids than you did when they were young. You may now be considering future expenses such as university tuition.
Although these expenses and all this planning may be daunting, it is important to keep your children’s best interests in mind. If you and your ex are finding it difficult to agree upon these costs and how they might be shared, a third party like a family law lawyer or a mediator may be of help to you.
Details to think about
When you are drafting up your Separation Agreement that deals with child support, it is also a good idea to include the particulars of each anticipated expense, such as:
- what is the expense for? (for example, hockey, soccer, swimming, dance or music lessons)
- what is the total cost for the expense that you can expect per year?
- how much will each of you need to contribute to the overall cost?
- what is the date that these activities will need to be paid by?
If you plan these things out ahead of time and incorporate them into your Separation Agreement, it will help you to avoid misunderstandings and conflict in the future. It will also make it easier to enforce the payment of any expenses.
Determining your share of these expenses
As a general rule, both parents will share in the amount determined for the expenses in proportion to their incomes. However, you may agree to share these costs differently.
To determine a specific amount for each special or extraordinary expense, you will need to consider any subsidies, benefits or income tax deductions or credits relating to each expense and your eligibility to claim these amounts.
A third party such as a family law lawyer or a mediator may be able to assist you in determining the proportional share of these expenses and what can be included as special or extraordinary expenses.
Our law office has the recognized expertise to guide you through this and all other legal aspects of your separation.