The Federal Child Support Guidelines: Step-by-Step

Step 7: Determine if there are special or extraordinary expenses

Either of you may ask for an amount for special or extraordinary expenses under the Federal Guidelines.

As explained in Step 6, the child support tables provide a starting point. You will now need to determine whether there are any special or extraordinary expenses in your situation. If there are, you will need to determine the amount that you should add to the basic table amount. Under the Federal Guidelines, this could happen if one of you has the majority of parenting time or if you split parenting time. If you share parenting time, this step does not apply. In a shared parenting time situation, the expenses are based on the conditions, means, needs and other circumstances of you and your children and you can use your discretion to determine the amount and how you share the expenses.

You can use Worksheet 2, to help you estimate an amount for special or extraordinary expenses and your share of that amount.

What are special or extraordinary expenses?

The Federal Guidelines define “special or extraordinary expenses” as expenses that are:

Special or extraordinary expenses are:

An expense for education or extracurricular activities is extraordinary only if:

  • it is more than you can reasonably pay based on your income and the amount of child support you receive
  • it is not more than you can reasonably pay, but it is extraordinary when you take into account:
    • your income and the amount of child support you receive
    • the nature and number of educational programs and extracurricular activities
    • the overall cost of the educational programs and activities
    • any special needs and talents of the child
    • any other similar factors that are considered relevant

It is best if you agree on which special or extraordinary expenses are reasonable and necessary in your situation. You can even include expenses like university tuition that you expect to have in the future. Keep your children’s best interests in mind. If you find it difficult to agree, a third party like a collaborative lawyer or a mediator may be able to help you.

Details to think about

When you are setting up your child support agreement, it is also a good idea to include the particulars of each expense, such as:

This will help you to avoid misunderstandings and conflict in the future. It will also make it easier to enforce expenses if the need arises. For example, expenses can usually only be enforced when the support agreement or order includes a specific dollar amount for each expense.

Determining an amount and calculating your share

As a general rule, parents share the amount determined for the expenses in proportion to their incomes. But you may agree to share the amount in a different way.

To determine a specific amount for each special or extraordinary expense, you will need to consider any subsidies, benefits or income tax deductions or credits relating to each expense and your eligibility to claim these amounts.

Robert and Dan

Robert and Dan live in British Columbia. They have a 15-year-old daughter named Li. When Dan and Robert decided to live apart and divorce, they agreed that Li would spend the majority of the time with Dan and Robert would pay child support, since Robert has to travel a lot for his job.

Robert earns about $80,000 per year. The table for British Columbia shows that the basic amount of support that someone with his income would pay for one child is $765 per month.

Next, Robert and Dan determine special or extraordinary expenses for Li. Li has been taking figure-skating lessons and dreams of becoming a champion. Robert and Dan want to help her follow her dream, but it is expensive. After they take into account any income tax deductions or credits that may apply to this activity, they estimate that it costs them about $12,000 per year to pay for lessons and rent ice time. They agree that it meets the definition of an “extraordinary expense” for an extracurricular activity and that it is reasonable given their means. Robert and Dan agree to share the expense in proportion to their incomes.

To determine Robert’s share of the expense they first add together his annual income of $80,000 and Dan’s annual income of $75,000 for a total of $155,000. Next, they divide Robert’s income of $80,000 by the total combined income of $155,000 and multiply that amount by the annual amount of the expense: $80,000 รท $155,000 x $12,000 = $6193.55. When they divide that number by 12, they find that Robert’s monthly share of this expense will be $516.13.

They add that amount to the table amount of $765 to find the total amount of child support that Robert will pay each month: $765 + $516.13 = $1,281.13.


You have now determined:

You now need to add the paying parent’s share of the special or extraordinary expenses to the basic amount determined in Step 6 to find the total monthly amount of child support. You can use section 8 and section 9 of your Child Support Tool to make that calculation.