Family law can be complicated and emotionally draining. Child support is often a central factor in a divorce or separation. Child support is financial payments from one parent to another to help offset the costs of caring for the child or children.
In rare cases, a judge may decide to order support payments go directly to the child when the child is over the age of majority. The age of majority is 18 in six provinces: Manitoba, Alberta, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec.
In Ontario, child support is based on specific guidelines. These cover who pays, the number of children that must be supported, and payments for extraordinary expenses.
Parents are required to pay child support even if they do not see the children. The law defines a parent as an adult who has acted as a parent to the child. This can include a non-birth parent, adoptive parent, and sometimes a stepparent.
When Does Child Support Stop in Ontario?
Usually, child support is paid by one parent to the other for dependent children. Legally, these are children under the age of 18 or those who are over the age of 18 and not independent due to school attendance or an illness or disability.
Under the provisions of the federal Divorce Act and Ontario’s Family Law Act, the paying parent may have a financial obligation to support adult children. However, this area is at the discretion of the judge, and there are no guidelines set out for these particular circumstances.
Before 1997, judges decided whether parents had to make child support payments for children older than 16. When the legislation was amended to the age of majority in the province or territory, awarding support payments beyond the age of majority was at the judge’s discretion.
In the past decade, economic changes have resulted in young adults living with their parents longer and needing more financial support for post-secondary education. The courts recognize this obligation to provide support. For higher-income parents, this could extend to higher education after an undergraduate degree.
Additionally, the court may extend support into the adult child’s late twenties or beyond for those with disabilities who continue to receive care and support from one parent.
Child Support for Children Over the Age of Majority
Separated spouses and parents in Ontario are obligated to support their children who are over the age of 18 in certain circumstances. Examples could include when the child is unable to support themselves, whether because of disability or because they are engaged in full-time education. In rare cases, the judge may determine the payments should go directly to the child and not the parent.
Child support may continue for an adult child who lives at home with one parent while attending University. The judge determines the amount paid. They may consider an amount appropriate in regard to the circumstances of the adult child and the financial ability of each parent.
While there are guidelines, the judge has the discretion to order an amount that’s different than what the guidelines would suggest. They may do this after considering the circumstances of the adult child and the financial ability of the parents. However, if the child lives away while attending University, financial obligations are different. Depending on the circumstances, the child may be expected to contribute to the cost of their post-secondary education.
If the adult child is unable to support themselves for other reasons, the primary parent caring for the child would be entitled to receive child support. The court considers the financial ability of both parents and any benefits the child receives, including those from the Ontario Disability Support Program.
Factors That Affect Child Support
Several factors affect the amount of child support the paying parents may be responsible for. These factors include:
Special or extraordinary expenses: These are financial obligations for services needed in rearing a child. For example, it may include medical and dental health expenses that are not covered by the parent’s insurance. Parents can also agree on sports activity fees, music lessons, and post-secondary expenses. These are shared and based on how much the individual parents make.
Undue hardship: If the paying parent has financial difficulties, the payments may be adjusted. However, this is difficult to prove, and the paying parent must provide adequate evidence.
Parenting Arrangement: When determining child support, the judge will consider the amount of time the children spend at their parent’s home.
Retroactive child support: If a parent has a legal duty to pay child support but has not met that obligation, the court may order retroactive payments for up to three years in the past.
How Carmichael Law Could Help
If you have a child over the age of majority and have questions about child support, contact the Oshawa family lawyers at Carmichael Law. Our compassionate and experienced legal team can answer your questions and assist you in the resolution of your case.
Our team works closely with our clients to keep them informed and ensure they are involved. Contact our legal team today by calling 905-571-5123 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation about child support.