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Child Support Matters! A Primer

Important things to know if you’re paying or receiving child support!

In my experience providing family law advice to separating or divorcing parents there are rarely questions asked about how much child support is to be paid. After all the Federal Child Support Guidelines have been around for a while, and are simple to use. Just figure out the income and the number of children and voila, the chart provides the answer. There is virtually no wriggle room in the calculation.

However the same cannot be said for when child support should end. It is not when a child turns 18 years of age, although there are very rare exceptions which I won’t delve into today. Typically, child support end when a child turns 19 years old. Again however, there are exceptions.

The most common, if a child is in full-time attendance at an accredited post secondary educational institution.

But it is helpful to understand that the child support rules which apply for a younger child do not automatically apply when a child turns 19 years old. In particular it will be expected that a child through their own endeavours, ie part-time employment, contribute towards their own educational expenses.

These are called Special Expenses. So for example, child support may terminate when a child turns 19, but if the child is attending school, the child may be expected to contribute one third towards school expenses, with each parent contributing one third. Also, unless specified in a written agreement or court order, there is no rule which limits child to support until a child completes a first degree.

Also, contrary to popular myths a child who is not attending school at 19 does not automatically lose entitlement to child support forever. If that child attends school at a later date they could become entitled to future support.

Since all circumstances are unique, and the consequences can be severe, before you decide to terminate child support, or give up receiving it, consult an experienced family lawyer such as me. It could be the wisest investment decision you’ll ever make.

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