Co-Parents And School: Who Pays For What?

September 3, 2020
Kim Brown

Article written by Kim Brown

The new school year is fast approaching, and there may be a lot of “firsts” for some divorced parents to figure out. This is especially true if the child is just beginning their academic career or entering post-secondary school. Starting school may include deciding if you two will attend the same or separate parent-teacher meetings. You may ask if you’ll both drive to campus to ensure you child’s doom room is inhabitabl. A big question parents ask: who will pay for what.

The Basics

Are caring for a young child who is entering into the public school system? You may be wondering how to divide costs for things like backpacks, lunches, and running shoes. Regular child support payments are intended to cover these expenses. If you receive or make these payments, they won’t be adjusted based on the fact that your child is beginning school. Many parents will agree to divvy up the supply list and share school expenses. A little bit of planning can make this process much easier for everyone.

The Add-Ons 

Private school expenses, before and after school childcare, tutoring, and extracurricular activities are much more likely to fall under section 7 expenses. These are otherwise known as special or extraordinary expenses. Section 7 expenses are expenses that surpass the normal costs of raising of a child, but are at the same time necessary because they are in the child’s best interests. They are reasonable, given the means of the parents. They align with the family’s spending patterns before the separation. Generally, parents share special or extraordinary expenses based on their respective annual gross incomes. What qualifies as a section 7 expense will differ for each family, depending on their incomes and individual circumstances. You and your ex may decide that you can cover your child’s hockey or football lessons. Other families may want to explore more affordable extracurricular actives that better align with their spending abilities.

Post-Secondary Education

Post-secondary expenses, including tuition, housing, books, and electronics, may also fall under section 7 expenses. Child support does not automatically stop once a child turns 18. In fact, under Ontario law, a parent’s support obligation can extend beyond the age of majority. This is provided the child has not withdrawn from parental control. The governing factors that determine whether parents owe support for their adult children can be complex. There are no firm statutory or legal rules about how much a parent is expected to contribute towards their child’s post-secondary education. Are you and your ex are unsure or cannot agree about how much you both should pay for your child’s post-secondary education? Seek help from a family lawyer.

On a final note, figuring out school-related expenses is easiest if you and your ex can work together and divide costs in a fair manner.