What is a special and extraordinary expense?

April 6, 2021
Leisha Murphy

Determining which child-related expenses fall within regular child support and which expenses are considered special and extraordinary expenses and as a result paid by each party proportionally to their incomes can be a challenging proposition. The recent case of P.J.D. v. W.K.W,. 2020 BCSC 1851 does an excellent job of giving some clarity to this question.

In particular, the court states:

  1. Expenses such as “entertainment, pets, vacations, school fees, school supplies, children’s allowances, meals outside the home, personal grooming, and clothing” are not section 7 expenses: Mertler v. Kardynal (1997), 1997 CanLII 11209 (SK QB), 35 R.F.L. (4th) 72 (Sask. Q.B.).
  2. A home computer and other similar technologies do not qualify as extraordinary as they are “common item[s] found in most homes”: D.L.Y. v. J.A.P.Y. 2003 BCSC 1312 at para. 18.
  3. Recreational sports and other similar extracurricular activities -- dance lessons, community sports leagues, ski trips, etcetera -- are generally considered “ordinary.” The question is whether the participation goes beyond that of the “average child”: DLC v. FMC, 2010 BCSC 1312 at para. 67.

The court also states that cell phones are not a special and extraordinary expense.

It is important to obtain legal advice or clearly understand if an expense is considered outside regular child support prior to seeking compensation from your former spouse. It is also prudent to have specific language in your separation agreement defining what will be considered a special and extraordinary expense to minimize confusion or frustration (and legal costs!) at a later date.

Check out this video that discusses what school supplies might be special and extraordinary expenses:

 

Our lawyers at Connect Family Law continue to offer consultations and our services by videoconferencing and telephone to assist families in navigating these challenging issues.  Contact Us

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Leisha Murphy
Leisha Murphy
Partner (Vancouver)
Connect Family Law

Leisha takes a heart-forward approach to her practice. Providing clients with guidance and education, she takes a “big picture” view , assessing the long-term impacts of decisions to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family.