Child Support: Sharing Summer Activity Expenses

Summer Camp and Child Support: Does Your Child Qualify for Extra Support?

With school coming to an end and summer finally here, your child is likely going to be participating in many different activities during the coming months.  These activities come with additional costs, which may or may not be covered by monthly child support.  In this post, University of Ottawa law student and Fresh Legal summer intern, Kayla Sanger, shares some information about when these costs might incur an extra support obligation.

What are the extra support obligations?

If you are receiving child support you may be able to request an additional amount to help cover the cost of “special” or “extraordinary” expenses.  These are expenses that are not contemplated when calculating the amount of basic child support to be paid.  In some instances, your child’s summer camp and related activities may be eligible. 

In most cases, parents share the costs of these expenses in proportion to their respective incomes.  If your existing parenting schedule does not address how the cost of these activities is to be divided, you will need to discuss this with your co-parent.  Even if your agreement states how they will shared, you should always discuss individual expenses before incurring them, to ensure your co-parent agrees with contributing to the expense.

There are a number of factors to be taken into account before additional support will be awarded.  

For instance, a judge will look at the needs and interests of your children, as well as how reasonable the expense is taking into account your family’s current situation.  Other relevant considerations can include your family’s pre-separation spending on similar activities.  In some cases, courts have even considered whether the cost is reasonable in relation to what would be paid by families with similar incomes.

What types of summer expenses may be considered?

Extraordinary expenses for education:  

In some instances, you may be eligible for additional support if your child’s summer activity, such as a trip abroad, will result in academic credit.  They may also qualify if they are attending an educational program that is required to meet their particular learning and development needs

Extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities:  

These need to be assessed in relation to the nature and number of activities your child will be enrolled in.  In general, it is not necessary for your child to have any particular talents for costs to be eligible.  However, this may form part of the court’s consideration, if, for instance, you have fostered your child’s interests in a particular area in the past.  Activities will not be considered “extraordinary” if the cost is impractical given your families means. 

Childcare:  

Your child may be attending summer camp or activities as a means of childcare. If this is the case, these costs may be eligible so long as the childcare is required for you to work or attend school, or due to other circumstances such as illness.

Determining whether or not an expense qualifies as “special” or “extraordinary” requires a detailed analysis of your particular family’s situation.  To find out if your specific case qualifies for more support, you should seek the advice of your lawyer. 

If you have questions or comments about this post, please start a conversation with us on Twitter @freshstartott and @klasanger.

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