Does Child Support Stop Once the Child Attains 18 Years of Age

Do child support payments stop once the child reaches 18 years of age?  The short answer is not necessarily.  The law in Ontario generally provides for two circumstances in which child support will be payable for a child who is 18 years of age or older.  Those two situations are as follows:

  •  When the child is enrolled in, and attending, a post-secondary educational program on a full-time basis and such program relates to the career development of the child
  •  Where the child suffers from a disability which prevents him or her from being gainfully employed and is therefore financially dependent on one or more persons

If the child, in respect of whom support is being paid, fits within either of the above situations, then child support will likely be payable.  For a child under the age of 18 years of age, the Child Support Guidelines typically dictate how much support is payable.  However, for a child who is 18 years of age or older, the Child Support Guidelines do not presumptively apply.  For an adult child, there is much more freedom for the parents to negotiate an amount for support.

The amount of support for an adult child who is attending post secondary education will inevitably depend on: (1) whether the child is living at home while attending post secondary education; (2) the proportion of contribution by each parent to the child’s education related expenses such as books, tuition, and residence; and (3) how long the child is expected to be enrolled in post secondary education.

Assuming the adult child is not able to pay for all of his or her education related expenses, each parent may consider contributing a set amount toward such expenses in proportion to their respective incomes.  The education related expenses can be considered special and extraordinary expenses under the family law.  This means where each parent is contributing to such expenses, the amount of child support, in theory, ought to be reduced by this amount.  Just because each parent contributes to education expenses does not mean the child gets his or her education paid for in full.

When the Court is determining how much each parent may contribute to education expenses outside of support, it considers what situation the child would have been in if the parents had not separated or divorced.  The rationale for this principle is that the child should not have his or her school paid for in full by reason of the breakdown of the family.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding your rights and responsibilities, you are encouraged to sseek legal advice.  The content on this page is not legal advice and is for informational purposes only.  If you have any questions regarding family law, you may contact Mr. Turner directly at 905-447-1498 or by email at dale@turnerlawpc.ca