In a recent case out of Ontario, Vidal v Dunn, 2018 ONSC 2801, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice considered whether Section 7 child support expenses include legal costs and penalties related to a child’s crime.
Section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines, SOR / 97 – 175, permits Courts to order parents to pay a proportionate share of a child’s special or extraordinary expenses. The types of expenses regularly included under Section 7 typically relate to childcare, medical, educational and other needs.
In the Vidal v. Dunn case, the parties had a 20-year-old child who was criminally charged with driving under the influence and the possession of narcotics. The mother paid over $10,000 to help the child defend her charges and pay related penalties (this included $9,160 in legal fees, plus fines, 3 traffic tickets, $1,250 for a vehicle monitoring device, $198 to reinstate her driver’s license and $634 for a remedial impaired drivers’ program). The mother provided evidence that she did not initially consult the father about these expenses, but described her “goal to minimize the effect this mistake would have on [the child’s] adult life.” The mother applied to the Court for an Order requiring the father to pay half of these costs as a Section 7 child support expense.
The father provided evidence that he had never agreed to contribute to the children’s legal defense and related financial consequences. The father asserted that the child needed to learn from her mistakes.
Ultimately, the Court found that, in the circumstances, the child’s fines and legal fees were not a special or extraordinary Section 7 child support expense and the father was not obligated to contribute to same.