When a child is over 19 and attends post-secondary education away from home during the schoolyear, a court order or agreement may reduce or eliminate the amount of child support payable during those months because the child is not living with the recipient parent.
The Child Support Guidelines assume that the child is residing at home with the recipient parent and support payments are intended to help that parent with the cost of living and supporting the needs of that child. If a child resides elsewhere while attending school, such as in a rental suite, apartment or student housing, the child support amount prescribed by the guidelines may no longer be appropriate. For this reason, an agreement or court order may allow for child support payments to vary throughout the year or only be payable during the summer months when the child resides at home with the recipient parent.
When a child is not residing with either parent but is enrolled in full time post-secondary education, there will likely be no basis for child support but one or both parents may still be required to contribute to the child’s educational costs and living expenses in proportion to their respective incomes pursuant to the Child Support Guidelines.
With the emergence of COVID19, however, online education may be the “new normal” for many families and as a result, college and university students are staying home to attend virtual sessions rather than in-person classes. What this means is an increase in child support payments throughout the year if a child is now residing with the recipient parent full time.
Deborah A. Todd