The issue of how much child support should be paid for adult children and for how long it should be paid is not clearly addressed in the Child Support Guidelines.
In a 2012 British Columbia case (Naylor v Naylor 2012 CarswellBC 2979), Justice Jenkins explores this issue with respect to an adult child who is still in full time school. He refers to factors that judges should consider as set out in a 1993 case (Farden v Farden):
- Whether the child is enrolled in a course of studies and whether it is a full or part time course of studies
- Whether or not the child has applied for or is eligible for student loans or other financial assistance
- The career plans of the child
- The ability of the child to contribute to his/her support through part time employment
- The age of the child
- The child’s past and present academic performance
- What plans the parents made while they were still together for the education of their children
- Whether or not the child for whom support is sought has unilaterally terminated a relationship with the parent from whom support is sought
- The ability of the parent to support a child beyond a first degree
While not on their own determinative, these factors can be helpful to share with women who are wondering whether their partner might have to pay support for children who are past the age of 18 and still enrolled in school.
A slightly more recent Alberta decision explores what is reasonable in terms of ongoing financial support for an adult child who claims to be engaged in post-secondary education. In Lewis v Correia (2014), 2014 ABQB 314, 2014 CarswellAlta 879 (Alta Q.B.), the father asked the court to reduce or terminate the child support he was paying for his 18-year-old daughter, who lived with the mother and who did not appear to have an ongoing relationship with her father. He said he had no evidence that she was actually attending the post-secondary institution at which she was enrolled.
In her decision, Justice Veit wrote:
A debtor [payer] parent is entitled to proof of their child’s active participation in post-secondary education; it is not sufficient for [that] parent to be provided with information that their child is enrolled in [a] post-secondary education institution. . . The kind of proof that will be adequate will vary according to the circumstances. In most disputed cases, however, in addition to evidence of registration, evidence of progress, such as mid-term marks, should also be provided.
Because the daughter (and, presumably, also her mother) was not prepared to provide this information, Justice Veit terminated the father’s support obligation. Instead, she said, the daughter should contribute 40 percent of her education expenses and her parents should share the balance of the other 60 percent proportionate to their incomes.