A common child support question that arises for the payee (non-custodial) parent is why they still have to pay child support after their child turns 18. There is specific wording in Ontario Family Law Act (FLA), and similar language in the federal Divorce Act, and Federal Child Support Guidelines to help lawyers determine whether child support payments will continue in this case.
According to the FLA, every parent has a financial obligation to provide support for his or her child who is a minor or enrolled in their first full-time educational program. This means that if your child turns 18 and is still in high school or has enrolled in a full-time program at a college or university, child support payments must continue. Parents also have an obligation to support their children who cannot reach independence by reason of disability, illness or any other valid reason.
How Long Will I Have to Pay If My Child Is in University?
The legislation leaves the length and duration of child support payments open to interpretation by the courts. For instance, if your child is seeking a post-secondary degree, like their Master’s or Ph.D., then the issue of child support payments could be re-evaluated.
Generally, the child must show that their educational pursuits are reasonable, along with other factors, such as the child’s ability to meet their own needs, whether they are still considered dependent, and the expectations of the child and their parents. The court will have to weigh a multitude of factors in this analysis.
Additionally, many courts throughout Canada look to jurisprudence such as Farden v. Farden, 1993 CanLII 2570 which contains detailed steps in deciding whether child support payments should continue for an adult child as a general starting point.
Furthermore, each assessment by the courts is conducted on a case-by-case determination. In certain circumstances, support payments will continue. In other cases, support is terminated. Due to the varied nature of each set of circumstances in a family, it is vital to have an experienced family lawyer represent your interests.
What Are My Options to Terminate Child Support Payments?
Child support payments only end a way of an agreement between the parents or through a court order. Both parents can mutually agree to terminate child support payments when the child reaches a certain age or completes their first post-secondary degree program.
This termination is often included in the separation agreement or a stand-along agreement post-divorce.
Alternatively, courts can issue an order with an end-date for child support payments. Once the order is issued, the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) will be notified of the end-date and termination of child support payments. If there is no end-date, and the parents cannot agree on the termination of support, the parent will have to bring the matter to court and argue for termination.
As you can see, the termination and end-date of child support payments will vary depending on the case. If you have further questions about child support payments, modifying child support agreements, or other family law matters, please feel free to contact the Ottawa family lawyer at Davies Law Firm by calling (613) 688-0462 today!