As readers of this Blog will know, if you are a parent in Ontario, then you have a legal obligation to support your child, and the extent of this obligation will always depend on certain factors. Primary among them will be the needs and best interests of your child.
If your child has special needs, then your duty and financial obligation as a parent may be increased accordingly. Both the Family Law Act and the federal Child Support Guidelines include provisions covering special expenses that encompass health and educational expenses that may arise when your child has particular requirements relating to his or her education, health, or personal development. From a family law litigation perspective, this means that if you are separated or divorced parent who owes child support, then these kinds of expenses will be covered by any support order that may be made in connection with your child.
These added or “extraordinary” expenses typically include:
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- Health-related expenses (which includes professional counseling, physiotherapy, speech or occupational therapy, and prescription drugs)
- Hearing aids, glasses and contact lenses
- Certain educational programs (including primary/secondary school, as well as any other educational program that meets your child’s particular needs).
- Extracurricular activities (including the expenses related to any extracurricular activities in which your child is involved).
The need for, nature, and extent of these various child-related expenses will not be left up to you as a parent (or to the child’s other parent, for that matter); rather, a court – as part of a particular legislative mandate to do so – will evaluate the special needs of your child in the course of making a support order that takes these extraordinary expenses into account. The overriding factor is your child’s best interests, as well as how reasonable the expense is in the overall scheme of things, which includes consideration of your ability to pay, as well as your and your Ex’s spending patterns.
Do you have any thoughts or questions about support for special needs kids? Contact us for a consultation.