Couple and senior parents taking a break on a mountain walk

The family law issue of child support for adult children is interesting, because our clients often believe that the child support obligation ends when a child turns 18. However, the obligation of a parent paying monthly child support, often extends beyond a child’s eighteenth birthday. Under Section 31(1) of the Family Law Act, a parent has an obligation to provide support to the extent the parent is capable of doing so where the child is a minor, where they are enrolled in a full-time program of education, or where a child requires support due to illness, disability or other causes. However, the onus is on the parent seeking support of the adult child to demonstrate that the child remains a financial dependent. This becomes a more and more relevant, as many adult children now obtain a first and sometimes a second or third degree prior to obtaining financial independence.

In determining whether a child remains a dependent in need of support due to enrollment in a post-secondary program, the Court will consider a variety of factors, as set out in the seminal case Farden v. Farden, (1993)  CanLII 2570 (BC SC), which include whether the child is enrolled in full or part-time studies, what the career plans of the children are and whether their plan is reasonable, the age of the child and what plans the parent’s made for the education of the child, in particular plans made prior to separation. Furthermore, while at one point Courts were hesitant to extend the obligation to support a child beyond a first post-secondary degree, where the parties have significant incomes, an obligation to financially support a child through a second degree may be found. However, the older a child is, the more they are expected to contribute to their own education and support.

While the presumption under the law is that the payor will continue to pay support in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines, this may not necessarily be the case, where a child lives away at school during the school year. As set out in Coghill v. Coghill, 2006, CanLII 28734 (ON SC), where a child lives away during the school year in the city where they are attending college or University, monthly child support should be considered on a case by case basis, taking into account the portion of the year that the child will spend with the primary resident parent. In determining the amount of monthly child support payable, the Court will also consider the cost incurred by the primary resident parent in maintaining accommodations for the child to return home to during the holidays as well as the summer vacation.

Call us today to speak with one of our Toronto Child Support Lawyers to learn more about your rights and obligations regarding child support.

Written by Ms. Katie Gaboury, Associate Lawyer