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Under the Family Law Act, a child over the age of 18 years is entitled to child support if he or she is enrolled in a program of full-time education. 

Under the Divorce Act a child over the age 18 years is entitled to child support if he or she is unable to withdraw from parental control by reason of illness, disability, or other cause.  “Other cause” has been defined to include enrollment in a program of education.  

Generally, parents expect their child to attend school; participate in classes; complete assigned work; and, get good grades.  But what about an adult child who does none of those things?  Is he or she still entitled to child support?

What about a child who is enrolled in a program of education but makes no reasonable efforts to succeed?

A certain level of engagement and success in the program of education is expected from the adult child.  However, the court assesses the child’s efforts in all of the circumstances and, will consider all factors that may affect a child’s success including, but not limited to:

–          a child’s mental health;

–          a child’s learning disabilities;

–          a child’s illness;

–          a child’s academic history;  

–          a child’s emotional distress as a result of separation; and,

–          a child’s employment status.

The term “reasonable efforts” is not defined in the case law, and whether the adult child is making reasonable efforts in his or her program of education appears to be decided on a case-by-case basis. 

A review of the case law does reveal that the courts generally are sympathetic to young adults and, that a child ought to be supported by his or her parents while obtaining a high school diploma or, undergraduate degree or diploma. However, as the child becomes older, the courts “take a harder look at the child’s abilities; engagement; effort; and future potential.” 

For more information, see this paper written by Professor Nicholas Bala and Colleen Feehan.