Extraordinary Expenses: Riding into the Sunset

Kirk Kerkorian, ex-MGM mogul, currently pays $100,000 a month to Lisa Bonder in child support for their daughter, Kira. According to TMZ, this is the largest child support award on record in the US. Lisa Bonder, however, does not think it is enough. In fact, she recently requested that the amount be increased to a whopping $500,000 per month. Yes folks, half-a-million dollars per month.

Luckily for Kirk Kerkorian, a court decided enough was enough and dismissed Lisa Bonder's claim stating that there "is a difference between the needs of a child and the wants of a child." Put simply, there is no need to spend $491,000 a month on equestrian expenses.

Let us take a look at Ontarian law on the topic of child support and extraordinary expenses.

Analysis

First, the Child Support Guidelines provide a framework for determining the "Table amount" of child support to be paid by a payor based on (a) his/her income, and (b) the number of children (section 3). Adjustments to the amount of child support payable can be made on the basis of numerous factors, including, but not limited to, shared custody, undue hardship, and the sharing of child expenses by biological and other parents.

Kerkorian and Bonder were married for only 28 days. Further, when Kerkorian agreed to pay child support, he was not aware of the fact that Kira was not his biological child. Thus, an Ontario court may have reduced the amount of child support ordered to be paid by Kerkorian if the biological father was also providing financial assistance.

Secondly, in addition to the "Table amount", a court has the discretion to order special or extraordinary expenses (often referred to as Section 7 Expenses). Section 7 expenses can include the cost of child care, post-secondary education, and extracurricular activities. These extraordinary expenses are often shared between the parties in proportion to their incomes. In this case, however, Kerkorian earns a far greater amount than Bonder, and, as such, Mr. Kerkorian would, in Ontario, most likely be ordered to pay the majority of the Section 7 Expenses.

Stumbling back into his corner, Kerkorian would seem to have no argument against this claim for an increase in child support. However, in 2006, section 7(1.1) was added to define "extraordinary expenses" more precisely. It provides that a court must take into account the necessity of the expense in relation to the child's best interests and the reasonableness of the expense in relation to the means of the parents or spouses.

In short, section 7(1.1) provides Kerkorian with a knockout blow to Ms. Bonder's claim for an increase in child support. Clearly there must be a difference between a child's needs and wants, and the equestrian expense was, simply, unreasonable. In Ontario, a Court would similarly hold that the $100,000 per month child support payment was sufficient to cover both the child's Table amount (according to the Child Support Guidelines) and all Section 7 expenses.

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