What constitutes a special expense?
British Columbians who are involved in a divorce with children may be interested to learn about an aspect of child support called ‘special expenses.” Special expenses are large, unexpected expenses, such as extraordinary medical costs or orthodontics, that may come up while caring for a child. Because these are not everyday expenses, parents will need to come up with an agreement about how to pay for special expenses that is separate from the agreement about regular child support payments.
Unless the parents come to their own agreement, tables in the Child Support Guidelines will normally be used to determine the amount of child support a payor will owe to the custodial parent. These amounts, however, do not cover all special expenses a child may need. In addition to the regular child support payment amount, the parents or a judge will need to decide what percentage of special expenses each parent will contribute towards when they arise.
In some cases, parents will decide to split the cost of special expenses evenly. The Child Support Guidelines recommends that parents instead split the cost of these expenses in a way that is proportional to each parent’s income. Although parents likely will not know what special expenses a child will have, it may be important to reach an agreement about special expenses ahead of time.
Parents may find that a prearranged agreement about special expenses is useful to have in the event that a child requires tuition at a school that meets their developmental needs. Speaking with a lawyer may be a good way to determine what type of agreement about special expenses would most benefit the child. Because every child’s special expenses are different, the information in this blog is not meant to be confused with legal advice.
Source: The People’s Law School, “Child Support in BC“, September 29, 2014
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