If the child is over the age of majority, Canadian Courts can deviate from the Guidelines amounts, but there is no set formula for determining the appropriate monthly support amount. Instead, by law the family courts must consider 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.
As such, the determination of support for children over the age of majority may be based on many different factors, and it is difficult to make generalizations. Here are 5 things to consider:
1. Courts & Federal and or Provincial Child Support Guidelines
In order to determine the amount of child support that is appropriate between divorcing parents, Canadian courts can take guidance from the Federal and Provincial Child Support Guidelines, which prescribe varying levels of child support depending the parents’ income and the number of children. However, if the child is over the age of majority, courts can deviate from the Guidelines amounts. The Federal Child Support Guidance for Canada can be found at http://bit.ly/icNjqM .
2. If an adult child is living at home with a parent while attending post-secondary education, it is more likely that a court will award the Guidelines amount
This was illustrated in the recent decision in Radford v. Radford, where the daughter lived with the mother while attending university and adult high-school. The mother paid virtually all of the daughter’s expenses, which were not significantly different than when she was under the age of majority and in high school. The court found that the Guidelines amount was still appropriate, and ordered the father to continue to pay that amount as long as the child attended university.
3. The adult child’s educational choices can affect support entitlement
For example, if a child prefers to attend a post-secondary institution outside of Canada – thereby limiting the opportunity to contribute to his or her own expenses – the spouse who pays child support will not necessarily be required to pay a higher amount as a result. This occurred in Misner v. Misner case where the Court found no evidence to show that the post-secondary education in the foreign country was so superior that it outweighed the fact that the child would not be able to contribute to her own expenses by choosing to attend school there.
4. Economic and other factors may affect the amount of child support
In the case of Jahn-Cartwright v. Cartwright, the son was attending university in Windsor in order to become a teacher. However, because of the poor economic conditions in that city, he would need to return to the mother’s home during the summer, at Christmas, and during March Break. As a result, the Court ordered the father to pay one-half of the Guidelines amount during the regular school year, and the full Guidelines amount during the summer months when he would be living with his mother.
5. Support may still be ordered even if the child need is not actually living with the parent receiving the support
In the case of Cochrum v. Lyons, the child who had attained the age of majority but had been imprisoned at various detention centers for a total of 8 months. The mother had visited him regularly at each location, traveling between 180 and 545 miles round-trip to do so. She also deposited spending money in his bank account and bought him clothing. After considering these circumstances together with the father’s ability to pay, the court ordered the father to continue to pay support in keeping with the Guidelines amount even during the time-period that the son was incarcerated.
To summarize, lots of factors, including the child support guidelines, are taken into account when determining whether, and how much, support should be paid for children over the age of majority. If some of the circumstances highlighted here seem to apply to your particular family situation it may be useful to seek the advice of a lawyer.
The full text of these court decisions can be found at:
Radford v. Radford, http://bit.ly/i7HY2X
Misner v. Misner, http://bit.ly/gktDQ4
Jahn-Cartwright v. Cartwright, http://bit.ly/fwWnzh
Cochrum v. Lyons, http://bit.ly/flkt0B
Further information about family law and family law court decisions can also be found on our website at www.russellalexander.com