There are no hard and fast rules about when child support payments may end. Ontario is governed by the Family Law Act that says parents have the obligation to support minor, unmarried children who are full-time students. This Act is supported by the Divorce Act and the Federal Child Support Guidelines.
Each family’s situation is unique. If you have a question, consult a lawyer for a definitive response. However, there are some general rules:
Child support does not automatically stop when the child reaches 18 years of age. Important considerations are: Is the child still a full-time student? Does the child have a medical illness or disability? In other words, is there still some form of dependency to warrant the child support payments to continue.
Ongoing education is also an issue to be resolved. The general rule is child support payments should continue until the child reaches the age of majority and is no longer enrolled in a full-time education program or if they are still in school until the child completes their first post-secondary school degree. The courts have the discretion to evaluate and assess the child’s pursuit of advanced degrees and to determine the definition of a full-time program. There are guidelines to follow in that regard and will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.
When the child is over the age of majority and still enrolled in school, the parents can mutually agree to terminate the child support payments when the child reaches a certain age or it can be set out in Separation Agreements, Cohabitation Agreements, or other Domestic Contracts. However, it is important to note that a provision of this sort may not be enforceable by the courts. The courts will look at the best interest of the child and may override that provision.
Circumstances change. There may be changes in income (loss of the parent’s job), health status, or any other situation of either the parent or the child, or a combination, which would warrant the termination of the payments of child support.