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What changes should be made to family law?

These proposals let family law lawyers discuss and vote on what changes they think should be made to the law or court procedures. The results can be viewed and shared with legislators and the Courts. The proposals put forth are written by member lawyers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of this website or its administrators. You can view more proposals or make a proposal yourself.


Proposal: Section 7 expenses should be split based on incomes after spousal support is determined, not before
Child Support - Aug 15th

100% in favour out of 15 votes

Ken Proudman - view Arbitrator profile
BARR LLP (Alberta. Joined 2017)

The Revised User's Guide to the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines states "Section 7 expenses must be taken into account under the with child support formula. This continues to be the single most common and most significant mistake under the SSAG. The failure to consider s. 7 contributions will inevitably lead to the payor paying too much spousal support, possibly way too much if the s. 7 expenses are substantial."

The problem is that we often don't know what those expenses will be, they change over time, and reviewing receipts and agreeing on the annual amount is often not very cost effective to negotiate. Because this is such a common error, there are many payors who are paying around half of their income to the recipient and also paying a significant majority of section 7 expenses, which isn't a fair allocation of income.

This could be easily addressed by calculating the proportionate share of section 7 expenses after spousal support is calculated. So for example if the payor has 90% of the family income prior to support, but only 40% of family income after support (as calculated by ChildView or DivorceMate), then we make their share of section 7 expenses 40%.

The only issues that would need to be addressed would be a) where section 7 expenses are so high that they mean that no or much less spousal support should be paid (eg private school, nanny, where not justified by incomes); and b) it would be more difficult for judges to determine that proportion when they're just throwing out a somewhat-arbitrary amount of spousal support in chambers, so it would be imperfect until Specials, or they could ask counsel to calculate.


0 35 days ago

Ken Proudman - view Arbitrator profile
BARR LLP (Alberta. Joined 2017)

I think the practical way to accomplish would be to continue to input substantial known and recurring section 7 expenses into the calculation so that if they're large expenses (eg nanny, horse sports) they adjust the suggested amount of support, but then say that section 7 expenses thereafter are split based on the "% of Monthly Cash" column in the SSAG calculations.

1 27 days ago

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