Parents are required to support their children. This is the case even if they do not see them on a regular basis, and also when they share parenting time with the child. Child Support is the money one parent pays to the other to help provide for the daily needs of the children. Child Support is also often referred to as Child Maintenance.
Child support laws are founded on the idea that a child should benefit from both parents’ support. Child support, is the legal right of the child, even though it is usually paid to the parent who has primary care of the child (and not necessarily the child themselves).
To be fair, there are federal child support guidelines based on income. Child support may also be a proportionate amount, depending on the relative income of both parents.
Child support generally ends when a child of the marriage turns 19 and/or is self supporting. This is not as simple as the child having their 19th birthday. Other factors must be considered.
Victoria B.C. lawyer, Michael Butterfield noted, “Many parents review their child support numbers as their children get older and as their own circumstances change. For example, when a child applies to an expensive university far from home, or when a parent has a change in their income.”
Child support generally must continue if the child is attending school. This could include not only high school, but also university, college, or other trade or technical training program. If they are attending school, it is assumed that the child still depends on their parents for shelter, food, and life’s necessities.
If the child is able to contribute funds towards their expenses and education, that may be taken into consideration. For example, many teens and young adults work part-time, or during summers, to supplement their income during the school year.
Other children may be able to secure student loans, or other financing to assist them in their education. Some families may have RESPs that can be used towards their school expenses.
The child’s past academic performance, and likelihood of success in their chosen program may also play a role in determining whether a parent is required to continue paying child support. If a child does not have the pre-requisites for their chosen program, or has not been accepted into university, these would be important considerations.
The court may also take into account whether or not the child lives in a region that has chronically high unemployment. The key is whether or not the child has tried to find work, or whether they are intentionally underemployed.
A child who has a bonafide disability may need continued support, despite turning 19. For example, a child who is severely depressed may not be able to attend school or find work. However, children with a permanent disability may instead be eligable for government support. The Canadian government provided benefits for both children and adults with disabilities.
If a child marries, and leaves the home, child support generally ends- even if they have not yet turned 19 years of age.
Child Support Guidelines are determined with the assistance of the Divorce Act and Family Law Act. Child Support amounts can be negotiated between parents without going to court. This allows families to make a child support plan that suits their individual circumstances.
Jayne Embree, M.A.
Jayne holds a Masters in Psychology and is a highly experienced Divorce Coach and Child Specialist. She is currently working with the Administrative and Human Resources Departments of Butterfield Law.