Child Support - What Are Section 7 Expenses?

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Section 7 Expenses should be agreed to prior to enrolling your children

Child support is money paid to help cover the expenses of raising children. There are two types of child support, base (Section 3) child support and extra expenses (Section 7). Section 7 support is sometimes referred to as extraordinary expenses. Extra expense child support or section 7 child support is payable over and above the monthly base child support amount.

What Makes A Section 7 Expense "Extraordinary"

Recently the Alberta Court of Appeal in FJN v JK, 2019 ABCA 305 clarified how an expense is determined to be extraordinary. The court reminded us that expenses are extraordinary if they exceed an amount that the requesting spouse can reasonably cover, taking into account the income of the requesting spouse and any child support received. Thus, the term “extraordinary expense” must be understood within the particular family’s means and circumstance.

If the expenses do not exceed an amount the requesting spouse can reasonably cover, the court may still consider any other relevant factor to decide whether it is an extraordinary expense including any special needs of the child, the overall cost or the nature of the educational program.

Best Interest of The Child

The Court of Appeal also reminded us that a decision to order a payment of expenses is discretionary. Even though an expense may fall into the list outlined in section 7, the court must be satisfied that ordering the payment of such an expense is both in the child’s best interests and reasonable according to the means of the family and its spending patterns prior to separation.

The determination of whether an expense should be considered special or extraordinary within the meaning of section 7 is therefore family-specific. It depends on the child, the family, the incomes and the spending patterns during the marriage or relationship.

Section 7 Expenses Can Be Discretionary

As a result, the Court’s decision and comments about section 7 expenses may narrow the expectation that some families have about what an appropriate section 7 expense is – particularly for families with higher-earning payor parents.  The Court of Appeal’s decision in FJN v JK specifically stated that it is incorrect for a court to characterize something as an “extraordinary expense” just because the payor can afford it. Furthermore, section 7 expenses are not to be used as a mechanism to redistribute income between families even if doing so is with the view that benefitting the other household will result in benefit to the child. The Court of Appeal made this decision in the context of deciding an appeal of a case with a special needs child.

Overall, section 7 expenses are not a given – they are discretionary and require consideration of the specific circumstances of each family.

If you have questions with respect to child support, connect with us today.

 

Was Divorce On Your List of New Years Resolutions?

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Let us help you keep your resolutions!

The new year is a perfect time to reassess the previous year and set new goals. January aka "Divorce Month" is widely known in the family law community as being extremely busy with new cases. A divorce can be challenging but if you're diligent, you can turn this difficult experience of being newly divorced into a life lesson and opportunity to change for the better. Whether you are currently in the process of a divorce or your divorce has been finalized, here are our top five suggestions for starting the new year off on the right foot.

Start Forgiving

Forgiveness is as much for the person who grants it as it is for the person who receives it. Forgiveness operates to erase or reprogram our natural thought process enabling us to see or talk to someone without having old negative thoughts fill our mind. You don’t necessarily have to forget, but forgive, clear your mind and move on.

Be Co-operative

Co-operation can be particularly important if there are children involved. Next time your ex requests a reasonable change to the parenting plan or visitation schedule, try to be accommodating.

Take Control

Create a budget, analyze your retirement accounts, create an emergency fund, and take a look at your investments. Knowing what you have will help you make informed decisions throughout the new year.

Practice Patience

Remember that divorce is a difficult transition so give yourself time to process and grieve. Be patient with your mind and body as it recovers and allow yourself the proper time to fully move on.

Focus on You

Now is the ideal time to focus on yourself and your needs. Make time to do the things that bring you joy, perhaps try a new hobby or take a class. Drive your stress away by exercising the mind and the body. Read a new book or go on a walk, do anything that takes your mind off things.

New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity for all those who have failed to start making the changes that they said they would make next week, or even next month. Take this opportunity to change your mindset and enjoy the year ahead. If you need help with the divorce process, connect with us today.

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