WHEN DOES CHILD SUPPORT END?
You have been paying child support for so many years? When will these child support payments finally end? Or……you have been receiving child support for such a long time. Can you continue to receive it?
Child support doesn’t necessarily end when a child reaches 18 years of age. Under the Divorce act and the Family Law Act there is actually no upper age limit when child support ends. For the most part, child support is payable as long as a child has not “voluntarily withdrawn from parental control” and is enrolled in a full-time program of education. The courts have defined “full-time” to generally mean 4 full-time courses of study, but the courts have even allowed less than 4 courses in some circumstances. The courts have been very flexible in determining what a “course of study” is. It need not be a university education. College, trade school, and even other kinds of study may qualify. Furthermore, the courts have generally ordered child support to be paid until the child completes his or her first degree or diploma. Of course, there are some exceptions, so you need to discuss this with your family law lawyer.
While child support is generally payable until a child has completed her first degree or diploma, the entitlement to support is not automatic. The court must be satisfied that the educational plan is reasonable in terms of the child’s abilities; that it meets the plans and expectations of the parents with regard to the child’s post-secondary education; and that it is within the needs and means of the child and the parents.
In some cases, child support is even payable for a child who is pursuing a second or third degree. In this case, the court will consider the financial circumstances of the family, the ability of the child to contribute to his post-secondary education expenses, the child’s education and career plans, the child’s age, the child’s academic performance, the family’s educational expectations, the parents’ involvement in the decision-making process, the accountability of the child, and the extent to which the program prepares the child to become financially independent. Be very careful because most courts now find the child support guideline amount inappropriate when a child attends school out-of-town and only returns home during the summer and school breaks.
As with any area of law, there are some general guidelines which we can follow as I have discussed above. However, most cases are determined based on the facts of the individual case. As such, you should consult with a family law lawyer if you want an opinion regarding when your child support payment will end. I would be more than pleased to speak to you about your unique situation.