Child support is an indefinite obligation and it does not necessarily end when a child reaches the age of majority which in BC is 19 years old.
The Family Law Act applies to both married and unmarried parties and section 147 of the Family Law Act states:
(1)Each parent and guardian of a child has a duty to provide support for the child, unless the child
(a)is a spouse, or
(b)is under 19 years of age and has voluntarily withdrawn from his or her parents’ or guardians’ charge, except if the child withdrew because of family violence or because the child’s circumstances were, considered objectively, intolerable.
(2)If a child referred to in subsection (1) (b) returns to his or her parents’ or guardians’ charge, their duty to provide support for the child resumes.
The Federal Child Support Guidelines, section 3(2) states:
(2) Unless otherwise provided under these Guidelines, where a child to whom a child support order relates is the age of majority or over, the amount of the child support order is
(a) the amount determined by applying these Guidelines as if the child were under the age of majority; or
(b) if the court considers that approach to be inappropriate, the amount that it considers appropriate, having regard to the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of the child and the financial ability of each spouse to contribute to the support of the child.
A child who is over the age of 19 and who is pursuing their education is usually supported until they receive their first degree or diploma. Often this will be at the age of 23, or 4 to 5 years after they graduate from high school.
If however a child has special needs that prevent him or her from earning sufficient income to support themselves child support may continue for the lifetime of the parent. If a child is under the age of 19 the amount of child maintenance is set out in the Federal Child Support Guidelines.
If the child receives assistance from the government the amount of child support the parent is required to pay may be reduced by the amount of the government assistance.
Deborah A. Todd