Does the Canada Child Benefit count towards sharing special expenses?
The Canada child benefit (CCB) is a tax-free monthly payment for eligible families to help them with the cost of raising children under 18 years of age. If you are a non-custodial parent, you are likely not in receipt of the CCB.
Special or extraordinary expenses are childcare expenses that are not included in the basic monthly amounts of child support. These expenses are sometimes referred to as Section 7 expenses, as the rule for these expenses can be found at section 7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines (“Guidelines”). Generally, separated parents are expected to pay for a special expense based on a proportionate sharing of the expense. As such, if you earn more than your spouse, you will likely pay a higher proportion of the expense.
A question that frequently arises, but is not yet settled in Canadian jurisprudence, is whether the CCB should count as income when determining the appropriate proportionate sharing of expenses. Some courts have included it; others have not.
Some courts have interpreted the word “means” in section 7(1) of the Guidelines to include child tax benefits as part of the income that a parent has to cover section 7 expenses (see Robillard v. Robillard,  O.J. No. 3572 (S.C.J.) and Lihou v Lihou, 2011 ONSC 7671.) In Lihou v Lihou, the court determined the custodial parent’s income for sharing expenses by adding up her disability income, CCP income, and child tax benefits. The court found that the custodial parent’s income would “be the equivalent” of $33,803 when all of her benefits were combined. The court adjusted the sharing ration of extraordinary expenses, accordingly.
In some cases, the addition of the CCB to the custodial parent’s income for sharing of expenses might not result in a significant monetary difference. However, the issue is often worth exploring in negotiating a resolution to the issue of special expense sharing. If you have questions about child support and special expenses and reside in the Kitchener-Waterloo / Guelph area, please contact Purves-Smith Law for a consultation.