What is a special and extraordinary expense?

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. FMC2010 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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About Leisha Murphy

Partner/Mediator – Vancouver

After being a family lawyer for over 13 years, coupled with my own personal experience with divorce, I have come to understand the difficult transition that comes with the end of a relationship. This experience has put me in the unique position of being able to provide clients with a clear picture of what is to come and how to plan for it. As well as provide clients with guidance and education on how to deal with the day-to-day realities of a separation.