How long does an obligation to pay child support last? Generally, child support is payable until a child reaches the age of 18 years old, but it’s much more complicated than that. If a child over the age of 18 years old is enrolled in a full time program of education or is unable to provide for themselves because of a disability, child support can continue well past the age of 18 years old.
If you have a Separation Agreement which provides for the payment of child support, it likely has a ‘termination’ clause which sets out when child support ends. According to these agreements, often child support ends when a child reaches a certain age (such as 25 years old), regardless of whether they are still in school, or when the child marries, or obtains their first post-secondary degree.
According to the legislation, there is no age that is too old for child support. If your child is in full-time education, theoretically they may be entitled to child support no matter their age. However, the Courts will often terminate child support after a child has obtained their first or second post-secondary degree. Similarly, after a child turns the age of 18, the full table amount of child support may no longer be appropriate, particularly if the child attends school away from home. Even though a child is 18 years old, the Guidelines provide that the presumptive amount of child support is still the Table Amount. This can be varied if the Table amount is not appropriate after considering the incomes of the parties, whether they are paying significant section 7 expenses (such as tuition and residence fees).
A child over the age of 18 who is disabled may be entitled to ongoing child support if they are unable to provide for themselves. When determining a child’s ability to provide for himself or herself the Court will consider any disability benefits the child receives, employment and education history. A disabled child is not entitled to child support if they are over the age of 18 and are able to be financially independent.
It is also worth noting that a child who is 16 years or older, who has withdrawn from the parental relationship may no longer be entitled to child support. If the parent is responsible for the lack of relationship, child support will continue. However, if the child has chosen to become independent, and is 16 years old, he or she may no longer be entitled to support.
Every situation is different and so determining whether your child is still entitled to child support, and how much, is determined on a case by case basis. If your child is 18 years old and you think they may no longer be entitled to child support, you should see a lawyer.