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Regular readers of this blog will know that for parents who are separated and pay child support, in addition to the monthly amount, they can also be required to pay for ‘special or extraordinary expenses’, which are paid in proportion to their incomes. Usually these expenses include daycare, extraordinary extracurricular activities and similar expenses.

Purchasing Christmas presents for your children is also a very significant expense. Should it be shared in proportion to income? Although there would be some advantage in sharing the cost of Christmas presents, so that both parents could provide gifts to their children, reflecting the same standard of living, the case law suggests that the nature of the Christmas presents is that it is a gift – freely given and discretionary. It’s not an expense to be shared in proportion to income. Each parent is free to give the gifts they want, without any contribution from the other parent.

Although the legal principle is sound, this could result in one parent being unable to provide as many or as expensive gifts to the children, and another parent lavishing the children. Although legally you may not be required to contribute to gifts to the children, family law is always about the best interests of the children, and surely it’s more important that children enjoy their holiday season than it is for them to know who gave them their gifts.


This content is not intended to provide legal advice or opinion as neither can be given without reference to specific events and situations. © 2021 Nelligan O’Brien Payne LLP.

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