Q: My son starts at UVic in September and will be living on campus. My ex wants me to pay her the ongoing child support as well as pay his school fees.

A: Child support for children in post secondary education is a thorny subject. It also leads to a lot of conflict and court applications. It is really important not to ignore this issue because if you end up in court, the Judge is not likely to be sympathetic.

Generally, if a child is living at home and just 19 years old,  ongoing child support will will include university. However, the child is obligated to contribute something either through working in the summer and saving, obtaining scholarships, or student loans. The older the child becomes, the more they are expected to contribute. They are also expected to negotiate their continued support with the parent paying.

When a child is living on campus, the costs are normally dealt with by adding up the total cost and dividing it between the parents as an extraordinary expense, less any contribution from the child. This ensures that both parents are contributing to their ability based on their income.

Whatever arrangements are made, they should be in writing. If you stop paying child support and start paying the child directly, you need to make sure that your ex will not come back later to claim back child support.

Michael Butterfield
Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator
Certified Family Law Arbitrator