More on the Splitting the Costs of Kids’ Hockey
A few weeks ago I wrote about how courts allocate the costs for kids to play hockey, and as an example put forward a case where only certain hockey-related costs were considered “extraordinary expenses” that were subject to division between the separated parents, pursuant to s. 7(1)(f) of the federal Child Support Guidelines.
However, it is important to point out that there are no absolute rules in this regard – the treatment of hockey and other activity-related costs can vary even in terms of how they are categorized for child support purposes. Depending on the situation, they might be classified differently from one family to the next: – in some cases being classified as an “extraordinary expense”, while in others being included as a component of the monthly child support amounts.
This surprising dichotomy can occur because in some families, everyday, “ordinary” expenses associated with sports and other extracurricular activities are contemplated and anticipated because of the family’s overall lifestyle and means, and are therefore simply funded from the child support that is paid in connection with the child. This was the outcome in an Ontario decision called Watt v. Watt, where the costs for the children’s hockey and dance were not considered to be extraordinary expenses in the overall context of the particular family’s lifestyle.
In any event, the point at which hockey or similar costs stop being “everyday” expenses and start being “extraordinary” ones is a difficult one to identify. Fortunately, the Child Support Guidelines do offer some guidance in his regard, stating that the question of whether an expense has become “extraordinary” (for the purposes of s. 7(1)(f)) involves the court considering several things, (set out in s. 7(1.1)) namely:
1) whether the expenses exceed those which the support-paying parent can reasonably cover, bearing in mind his or her income and any child support received by him or her; or
2) if these first considerations are not applicable, then the court can consider:
a. the amount of the expense in relation to the income of the spouse requesting the amount, including the amount that the spouse would receive under the applicable table or, where the court has determined that the table amount is inappropriate, the amount that the court has otherwise determined is appropriate,
b. the nature and number of the educational programs and extracurricular activities,
c. any special needs and talents of the child or children,
d. the overall cost of the programs and activities, and
e. any other similar factor that the court considers relevant.
As a final point, it should be noted that in making the assessment the court will not consider the merits of the proposed extracurricular activity; rather, the court will look only at financial aspects, measured against the various family-specific factors set by the Guidelines.
For the full text of the decision, see: