Hi, I am Nick Slinko of Feldstein Family Law Group. I am speaking today about the potential hassle of certain section 7 expenses.
A section 7 expense is defined in the Child Support Guidelines. These expenses are paid by the parties in proportion to their respective incomes or by other sharing as agreed to by the spouses, in some cases on an equal basis. Child care, uninsured medical and dental expenses and other health related expenses, post-secondary education and the costs associated with it, private schools and extracurricular, some are easily determined and others are not.
I will not go into a lengthy discussion about those, it is the ones that sometimes really just shouldn’t be argued about and one spouse may just have to pay them whether it is fair or not. Other times, one spouse may have to give up their request for contribution because it’s just not worth the fight.
Your lawyer may tell you to ensure that each expense that is a section s. 7 expense is agreed to in advance, in writing, and paid pursuant to the agreement or court order. What if the consent is not obtained in advance, what if the consent was implied and you acted upon it? These are troubling ones. For example, where a child participates in competitive dance and the cost is being shared or paid proportionately, what do you do about the travel costs that are over and above what was anticipated? What about the costumes, hair and makeup? What if the father is travelling with the daughter and due to the daughter’s age two rooms are required? What if one parent is reluctant to pay expressing that his or her consent was not obtained in writing in advance, sometimes it’s just not worth the hassle in collecting. This holds true with many other expenses; such as a child’s school uniform. It should be an incidental to the private school cost; however, it may be in lieu of other basic clothing that would fall under the child support. The dress shoes for the child, forming part of the uniform could also be worn for special occasions outside of school. Is this a section 7 expense? While my answer to the shoes would be a “no” in most cases, it is also the case that the cost of a letter to the other lawyer to address this would far exceed the cost of the shoes and so it is better to simply leave the issue alone.
We need to be smart about what we ask for and what we refuse to contribute towards due to the trouble that may ensue. That is not to say do not ask for a contribution, or do not refuse to pay it. We need to be smart and think strategically about the requests and the refusals within the context of considering legal and emotional costs. What does this do to our relationship with the other parent? A payment of $70.00 per year for the boy’s shoes may go a long way with the former wife such that she is appreciative of his help; the contribution towards the hair and makeup for dance would help the mother who paid for the cost and may make her kinder the next time she sees her former spouse. As lawyers, we tell you to check your agreement or court order, we can research the issue, and contact the other lawyer, however, at what cost to you financially and at what cost to your relationship with your former spouse.
We need to do it to keep peace in our relationships. You may lose $100.00 in not pushing for contribution towards hair and makeup for dance competitions, but keeping harmony in the relationship is more valuable and better for the kids.
Thank you for taking the time to listen to me today. Should you require more information and wish to schedule a consultation, please visit our website at www.separation.ca or contact our office at 905-581-7222. Thank you.