Child support does not necessarily end when a child becomes a legal adult. Under the Child Support Guidelines, a “child” is someone who is defined as a child under the Family Law Act, or a “child of the marriage” under the Divorce Act. A child is someone who is under the age of majority, or someone who is over the age of majority but is unable to withdraw from the charge of his or her parents by reason of illness, disability, or other cause.
In interpreting whether a child is “unable to withdraw” or whether they remain a “child of the marriage”, a court will consider why an adult child is unable to provide for him- or herself. These reasons could include education (whether a remaining term of high school or post-secondary education); a disability; an illness; or any other valid reason. If there is a valid reason that a child who is 18 or over cannot provide for him- or herself, then it is likely that child support will continue in some form. This may take the form of the Table amount of support, a different amount of support, or a contribution to special and extraordinary expenses.
Post-secondary education, in particular, is often a bone of contention between parents. Usually, a child’s post-secondary education will be considered a special and extraordinary expense, but in some circumstances the Table amount of support will continue, or another form of child support on a periodic basis.
Determining whether child support will still be payable after a child turns 18 is often complex and fact-specific. If you have a child who is 18 or will be turning 18 soon, and you want to know your options with respect to child support, you should consult a family law lawyer.