Trignani v. R. – Child Support and Tax Deductibility of Legal Fees

Mr. Trignani, a Child Support payor, challenged the Canada Revenue Agency’s refusal to allow him to deduct his Child Support related legal fees.

Up until this decision, the common consensus among family law practitioners was that only Child Support recipients (and thus not Child Support payors) could deduct their Child Support related legal fees when filing their income tax returns.

Mr. Trignani was successful in his appeal. This means that a payor of Child Support was permitted to deduct the Child Support related portion of his legal fees from his income. This does not mean that all Child Support payors are now allowed to do the same. This case appears to state that Child Support payors may only deduct their legal fees incurred to resolve the issue of Child Support where:

  1. they made a claim for Child Support,
  2. this claim was not frivolous,
  3. this claim had reasonable chance of success, and
  4. this claim was not abandoned prior to incurring the legal fees in question.

Whether the payor must have joint custody of the children in order to claim this deduction is unclear. Mr. Trignani did have joint custody in this case, so this may also be a requirement for tax deductibility of Child Support related legal fees for payor spouses.

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