Child support expenses that are payable over and above the monthly base amount is a topic that is covered in both Section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines and the Alberta Child Support Guidelines.
Such payments are usually paid by one parent to the other parent to cover the special or “extraordinary” expenses incurred when raising the child.
Whether you are the payor or the recipient of Section 7 child support expenses, it helps to know what they cover and how they will be factored into the overall child support equation.
Table of Contents
- What do Alberta Section 7 expenses include?
- Who pays what under Section 7 in Alberta?
- Are section 7 expenses necessary?
- Are section 7 expenses “reasonable”?
- Considering family spending patterns
What do Alberta Section 7 expenses include?
Standard child support covers the day-to-day expenses of raising a child, providing the essential financial support for food, clothing, transport, and so on.
There are six main areas of additional child support expenses covered by Section 7 under the guidelines. These are the following:
College and university expenses
Parents in Alberta are obligated to meet the costs of their children’s tuition, books and living expenses associated with college or university education.
If the child lives at home during the studies, a similar arrangement to during school years may be in place, but once the child reaches the age of 18, there is a reasonable expectation that he or she will contribute to the associated living expenses or education fees. The remaining portion of the expenses will usually then be shared between the parents.
Costs of childcare
If expenses are incurred from daycare or hiring a nanny, the payor parent must contribute to the after-tax costs that are involved.
Extraordinary school fees
As well as university or college education expenses, extra costs may be incurred in ordinary primary or secondary school. These include the costs of private tutoring or charter school fees, which are considered Section 7 expenses.
Uninsured healthcare needs
If the payor’s (or recipient’s) insurance does not fully cover the costs of medical treatment for a child, these will also need to be met by Section 7 child support expenses.
Healthcare insurance premium costs
Costs associated with healthcare premiums intended to cover the child will also need to be paid under Section 7 guidelines.
Extraordinary (“extracurricular”) expenses
Extraordinary or extracurricular expenses are those incurred by activities such as sports, extra lessons, school trips, and so on.
Sometimes, these expenses are contested by the payor spouse, especially if it is claimed that the recipient can afford to pay for the expenses without extra support or that the extracurricular activity is not necessary or not in the child’s best interests.
Who pays what under Section 7 in Alberta?
According to the Federal Child Support Guidelines, each parent must contribute to the Section 7 expenses incurred in raising a child.
The amount payable by each parent is determined by the respective incomes received, and the calculation is made proportionally to these incomes.
Standardly in Alberta, if the payor of child support receives an income that is 50 percent higher than that of the recipient’s income, he or she will also pay 50 percent more of the Section 7 expenses.
Conversely, if both parents earn equal incomes, the Section 7 expenses are split evenly between them.
Parents may also come to their own agreement on sharing expenses by consent. If there is no agreement, a Judge or Justice will decide. Parents may even be ordered to pay a different share by the court, depending on the precise circumstances.
Are Section 7 expenses necessary?
The main consideration of the court when determining if a proposed Section 7 expense is necessary is the best interest of the child – as in all matters of child support.
For instance, if the child has special needs that make an expense necessary for the child’s growth or development, it is likely to be considered a necessary Section 7 expense.
Every case is unique and dealt with according to the facts and circumstances: what is considered a necessary expense in one family may not be considered so for another family.
Are Section 7 expenses “reasonable”?
As well as the best interests of the child, the capability of the parents to pay the expense must be considered before a judgement is made.
The court will assess the financial means of the family to test whether a Section 7 expense is “reasonable”.
Judges will consider any subsidies, benefits, or income tax deduction or credits relating to the expense and available to the family before finalizing the calculations. If the expenses can be minimized in any way, the court will generally try to relieve any potential financial pressure on families.
Considering family spending patterns
Another consideration of the court when assessing whether an expense should be considered a necessary Section 7 expense will be the family’s historic spending patterns.
The general intention of child support and Section 7 expenses is to maintain the child’s lifestyle as closely as possible to how it was before the parents separated. So, if a request is made for an extraordinary expense that is not in keeping with the previous spending history within the family and not considered necessary for the child, it may not be approved by the court.
If an expense is consistent with previous family spending patterns, it is more likely to be approved.
As you have seen, there are few hard and fast rules with Section 7 child support expenses in Alberta. Everything is treated on a case-by-case basis and open to a judge’s discretion.
Consequently, most parties seek the assistance of a child support lawyer to help support a case and provide the necessary supporting evidence.
If you are unsure about section 7 expenses or any other child support matter in Alberta, speak to a child support lawyer at Jennings Family Law in Calgary for a free case evaluation.