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Our top-rated* BC and Calgary family lawyers get asked: When Does Vancouver Child Support End? a lot. At a minimum, if you do not have primary parenting time of your child, you will pay child support until 18 in Alberta and 19 in BC.  However, these deadlines are the minimum, not the maximum. So what are the rules for paying child support when a child is over the age of majority? How do we support a child but not let them slack off once they are adults? A new decision gives adult children a “bite of a reality sandwich. We think this decision makes sense in helping answer your question: When Does Vancouver Child Support End?

When Does Vancouver Child Support End? 

Fortunately, a new 5 person panel BC Appeal court case answers your question: When Does Vancouver Child Support End? in Dring v. Gheyle, 2018 BCCA 435:

The father appealed award requiring him to pay retroactive and ongoing child support for his son who was over 19 and who was neither fully employed nor pursuing full-time studies as the son was attending two three-hour night classes per week. The judge found the son continued to be a “child” under the FLA and was therefore entitled to support. The appeal was allowed by all 5 judges. They found the son was not a child of the marriage either when the application for support was made or heard. They all agreed on the fact that mere attendance at a post-secondary institution is not enough to establish an adult child is unable to withdraw from his or her parents’ charge or unable to obtain the necessaries of life. 

Takeaway – When Does Vancouver Child Support End? 

The takeaway is that a child must make bonafide attempts to be self-supporting. They can work full time, they can go to school full time, or they can do a combination of half work and half school if they have a realistic plan. All of these scenarios will likely entitle a child to BC or Calgary child support. But a child cannot expect to receive adult child support while they make half-hearted efforts to set themselves up for a successful career. Child support is tricky and many spouses get it wrong not understanding how income is calculated, how shared custody works and how adult child support and tuition costs are properly allocated. Meet with our BC and Calgary child support lawyers.

To get a very rough idea of your minimum child support obligation click here.

Adult Child Support Rules

[47]         In British Columbia, a person reaches the age of majority on becoming 19 years of age: Age of Majority Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 7. However, under s. 146 of the FLA, a person over the age of 19 who is unable, because of illness, disability or another reason, to obtain the necessaries of life or withdraw from the charge of his or her parents or guardians, remains a child for the purpose of receiving support.

[48]         Pursuant to s. 147 of the FLA, each parent and guardian of a child has a duty to provide support for their child. Pursuant to s. 149, a court on application may make an order for child support. The application may be made by the child’s parent.

[49]         Once a child of the relationship reaches the age of majority, the presumption is that the child is no longer a “child” and child support is no longer required. At age 19, a child is an adult who, generally speaking, must support himself or herself. To remain a “child” for support purposes, the adult child must be unable to withdraw from his or her parents’ charge, or unable to obtain the necessaries of life because of illness, disability or another reason. Once a child reaches the age of majority, the party applying for child support bears the onus of proving that the child is still a child: Olson v. Olson, 2003 ABCA 56 at para. 13.

[50]         If an adult child is still living at home, “but is neither ill nor disabled nor under the effect of [another reason] by which he or she is unable to withdraw from parental charge or to obtain the necessaries of life, then that adult child is no longer” a child entitled to support: Ethier v. Skrudland, 2011 SKCA 17 at para. 16. As noted in Kohan v. Kohan, 2016 ABCA 125 at para. 14, the wording “signifies something more than a mere lifestyle choice to remain dependant.”

[51]         In this case, the Mother submits the Son remains a child because he is pursuing post-secondary education. It is clear that pursuit of post-secondary education may constitute “another reason” for an adult child’s inability to withdraw from his or her parents’ charge. In Neufeld v. Neufeld, 2005 BCCA 7, the general proposition was summarized by Justice Levine:

Post Secondary Support 

Here is the law on why a child who is making bona fide efforts to obtain a post-secondary education to set themselves up for success can obtain child support while at University. In some cases, they can even be supported through 2 degrees! Here are the key principles to know when understanding -When Does Vancouver Child Support End?:

[18]      The pursuit of education necessary to equip a child with a career qualifies as “other cause” for continuing dependence of a child of or over the age of majority: Martin v. Martin (1988), 26 B.C.L.R. (2d) 390 at 393 (C.A.). In determining whether a child pursuing an education is unable to withdraw from her parents’ charge or obtain the necessaries of life a court must consider the surrounding circumstances; mere attendance at an educational institution is not sufficientCiardullo v. Ciardullo (1995), 15 R.F.L. (4th) 121 at para. 17 (B.C.S.C.). [Emphasis added.]

[52]         In Nordeen v. Nordeen, 2013 BCCA 178, this Court discussed the circumstances in which a pursuit of education is a valid reason for continued dependence:

[16]      In determining whether pursuit of education is a valid reason for continued dependence, a court must consider two questions. The first is whether, considering all of the child’s circumstances, the child’s educational pursuits are reasonable. If they are, the court must also consider whether it is appropriate that the pursuits be financed by the parents. These questions can be complex and value-laden. In Farden v. Farden, (1993), 48 R.F.L. (3d) 60 at 64-5, Master Joyce (as he then was) set out a list of eight factors that may assist a court in making the determinations:

(1)  whether the child is in fact enrolled in a course of studies and whether it is a full-time or part-time course of studies;

(2)  whether or not the child has applied for or is eligible for student loans or other financial assistance;

(3)  the career plans of the child, i.e. whether the child has some reasonable and appropriate plan or is simply going to college because there is nothing better to do;

(4)  the ability of the child to contribute to his own support through part-time employment;

(5)  the age of the child;

(6)  the child’s past academic performance, whether the child is demonstrating success in the chosen course of studies;

(7)  what plans the parents made for the education of their children, particularly where those plans were made during cohabitation;

(8)  at least in the case of a mature child who has reached the age of majority, whether or not the child has unilaterally terminated a relationship from the parent from whom support is sought.

[17]      This Court has found the Farden factors to be useful indicators in deciding whether child support should continue to be paid in respect of a child over the age of majority who is attending a post-secondary institution (see, for example, Darlington v. Darlington (1997), 32 R.F.L. (4th) 40; W.P.N. v. B.J.N., 2005 BCCA 7 and De Beck v. De Beck, 2012 BCCA 465). It must be emphasized, however, that the Farden factors are neither a checklist nor a set of statutorily-mandated criteria. Rather, they are considerations for the court in assessing whether the child’s situation is consistent with the definition of “child of the marriage” in the Divorce Act.

[53]         The Farden factors are equally helpful in determining whether an adult child remains a “child” within the meaning of s. 146 of the FLA.

Child Must Be Child Of Marriage To Claim Retroactive Support

Finally, the technical requirement that to claim past child support, also called retroactive child support the child must still be a child of the marriage at the time the application is filed. In Dring, 3 judges said the mother was too late to make the claim and the other 2 said she could but on the facts of the child’s spartan school and work efforts no child support entitlement was made out. The 3 person majority held:

[97]         In my respectful opinion the court does not have jurisdiction to make a statutory retroactive award unless at the date of the application the child retains the status of a child, or there has been a prior application which brings the matter under the “Henry exception”.

The two dissenting judges held:

[125]     In my opinion, s. 152 of the Family Law Act confers a discretion on a superior court judge to change an order respecting child support at any time and to do so retroactively.

Call 1 877 602 9900 to make sure you get things right on BC and Calgary child support. Our top-rated* BC and Calgary family lawyers will help you understand the rules on- When Does Vancouver Child Support End?

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