Understanding Child Support: What Are “Special or Extraordinary Expenses”?

By Lakshani Perera  |  June 10, 2021

Lakshani Perera

Last month I wrote about the basic concepts of child support: that all parents have a legal duty to financially support their dependent children, and I explained how that works in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines. In addition to the basic monthly amount called the “Table amount”, child support can also include other expenses called special or extraordinary expenses. You may also hear these expenses called “Section 7 expenses,” which simply refers to Section 7(1)(a)-(f) of the Child Support Guidelines that sets the categories of special or extraordinary expenses.

Examples of special or extraordinary expenses

Special or extraordinary expenses may include child care costs such as daycare; the child’s health care expenses such as orthodontics, prescriptions, dental, eyeglasses, and counselling that are not covered by health care benefits; expenses for school or educational programs to meet the child’s particular needs, such as tutors; expenses for post-secondary education; and “extraordinary” expenses for the child’s extracurricular activities, such as sports or classes.

These expenses must be reasonable (which means that the parents can afford it, based on the family’s financial situation) and necessary (which means it must be for the child’s best interests).

Calculating your share

Figuring out the amount of extraordinary expenses a parent pays can be done in a couple of ways. Often, parents will share the amount determined for the expenses in proportion to their incomes. Or, they may agree to share the amount of special expenses in a different way (such as each parent paying 50% of the expenses).

Let’s take a look at an example. Mark and Lisa are calculating special expenses proportionate to their incomes. Mark has an annual income of $20,000.00 and Lisa has an annual income of $60,000.00 (generally, this is calculated using pre-tax incomes but you can see more information about this in my last blog).

$20,000 + $60,000 = $80,000 (total parental income)
To calculate each parent’s percentage, divide each individual’s income by the total parental income and multiply by 100.
Mark: $20,000/$80,000 x 100 = 25% share of expenses
Lisa: $60,000/$80,000 x 100 = 75% share of expenses

Child support continues as long as the child remains “dependent” (defined by legislation and case law). A child over 18 may be considered dependent if they have a disability or illness or remain in school full time. To learn more about child support beyond age 18, see these previous blog posts:

Questions about child support? Contact Henderson Family Law to set up a meeting with one of our family lawyers.


This content is provided as a general informational source by Henderson Family Law, and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, or establish a lawyer-client relationship. Every situation is complex and fact-specific, and appropriate advice will vary accordingly. Do not rely on this information for legal decision-making under any circumstances. Please consult with us and obtain proper advice and strategy concerning the specifics of your particular situation.

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