Many people may not know that child support obligations can, and often do, continue after the child reaches the age of 18. The concept of an adult child may seem like an oxymoron to some parents. They may think a child over 18 should support themselves financially. Other parents will continue to financially support their children well into their 20 and perhaps even longer. The law of Ontario has recognized a need for child support for children over the age of 18 who are enrolled in full time school, they are adult children.
For the purposes of this blog post, I will only be looking at children who could become self sufficient but have chosen to remain in school even after they turn 18. Children who are handicapped by some disability that prevents them from ever being able to be completely self sufficient is another issue to be addressed in a future blog post. Adult children, therefore, are children over the age of 18 that are enrolled in post secondary education.
The recent decision in Kinshella v Kinshella by the Alberta Court of Queens Bench is useful to highlight how the court will deal with adult children for child support purposes. In that case there were two children, one over the age of majority and the second was turning 18 within a year. The first child, a son, had receipts for post-secondary education but never actually attended. The judge easily dismissed this claim for child support because he wasn’t really attending post-secondary education. The second child, a daughter, was hoping to enroll in a non-degree granting program after high school. This is the most interesting element of this case. The judge looked at program the daughter wanted to enroll in and found that it was largely for personal and spiritual development. It was not a program that would lead to a career. When looking at an adult child’s proposed program of study, the court will evaluate it based on whether it is achievable, realistic, and legitimate in relation to achieving a career goal. Programs for personal development may be important but they are not related to a career goal. Therefore, there is no obligation to continue paying child support for an adult child that is not enrolled in a course of study that will lead to a career.
Child support for adult children is an interesting field of family law that is still developing. Claims for child support for children over the age of 18 are certainly possible but it must be supporting a post-secondary education that is achievable, realistic and legitimate in relation to achieving a career goal. If you have questions about child support or how support obligations change over time, contact the lawyers at Dale Streiman Law LLP. They can help you resolve you child support issues in a timely and cost effective manner.