Fees for extracurricular activities are becoming increasingly more expensive. As prices continue to increase and participation grows, an issue that arises between separated parents is who is responsible for paying for the cost of afterschool activities.
In Ontario, the answer to this question is found in the Federal Child Support Guidelines (the “Guidelines“). The Guidelines articulate that the cost of “special or extraordinary expenses” incurred by the children, including extracurricular activities, are a part of child support and can be ordered by the court over and above any base amount of child support. Section 7 of the Guidelines outlines what are considered “special or extraordinary expenses”:
- Child care expenses incurred as a result of the custodial parent’s employment, illness, disability or education or training for employment;
- That portion of the medical and dental insurance premiums attributable to the child;
- Health related expenses that exceed insurance reimbursement by at least $100 annually, including orthodontic treatment, professional counselling provided by a psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist or any other person, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and prescription drugs, hearing aids, glasses and contact lenses;
- Extraordinary expenses for primary or secondary school education or for any other education programs that meet the child’s particular needs;
- Expenses for post-secondary education; and
- Extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities.
As shown above, section 7(f) states outright that parents may be responsible for to pay for extracurricular activities over and above base child support. To determine whether a parent will be responsible for a section 7 expense, the court will give consideration to the necessity of the expense and the reasonableness of the expense. Necessity is determined by examining whether the activity is in the best interests of the child. Reasonableness is assessed based on the means of the spouses or the child to pay for the expense and the family spending patterns prior to separation. If it is determined that the expense is reasonable and in the best interest of the child, both parents will be responsible for the cost. Unlike base child support, payment for extracurricular activities will be apportioned between the parents on a pro rata basis, with each parent’s share being calculated in accordance with their income.
So, yes, in many circumstances a parent can request contribution from the other parent to help pay for a child’s extracurricular activities. To determine whether you may be responsible to pay for your children’s extracurricular activities, talk to one of our family law lawyers in Toronto. We offer free consultations and have offices in Downtown Toronto, Burlington, Newmarket, and Vaughan for your convenience.