If my child is in college, university or trade school, when does entitlement to child support end?

By Timothy Matthews  |  October 5, 2020

Timothy Matthews

I recently blogged about when entitlement to child support can end for a child who is not in school. This article will look at entitlement to child support for a child who is in school (college, university or trade school) past the age of 18.

The Ontario Family Law Act requires parents to provide support for an unmarried child who is enrolled in a full-time program of education. (Remember, of course, that children under the age of 18 do not need to be enrolled in a full-time program of education in order to be entitled to child support.)

The “full-time” component of education has been interpreted in a flexible way, with some cases finding that a child can still be considered enrolled in a full-time program of education despite the child taking less than a full course load. A court will look at whether the child’s participation in the program is “meaningful,” along with any reasons (such as health concerns) why the child’s course load is part-time.

In determining whether a child is entitled to child support by reason of being enrolled in a full-time program of education, the court will look at a number of factors, including the reasonableness of the program and educational plan, the means and needs of the child, the dependence of the child on their parents, the means of the parents, and the age, qualifications and experience of the child, including the education the child has already completed.

The ability of the child to access student loans to fund their education is a factor that can affect the amount of child support payable; however, a child having access to student loans would typically not disentitle the child to support completely.

Many people are surprised to learn that there is no legislated age at which entitlement to child support ends for a child who is enrolled in a full-time program of education. It generally becomes more difficult to justify an ongoing entitlement to child support as the child gets older. It is rare for child support to be ordered past the age of 24 or 25.

In practice, a child is usually entitled to support for a first degree or diploma program. Entitlement to child support can continue beyond a first degree or diploma, but it is much more dependent on the relevant circumstances and facts of the particular case.

If you think that child support should continue or end for a child who is in school or who has graduated from a post-secondary program, it is important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible, as delay can have negative consequences.

Questions or concerns about child support? Contact Henderson Family Law to set up an appointment for legal advice.


This content is provided as a general informational source by Henderson Family Law, and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, or establish a lawyer-client relationship. Every situation is complex and fact-specific, and appropriate advice will vary accordingly. Do not rely on this information for legal decision-making under any circumstances. Please consult with us and obtain proper advice and strategy concerning the specifics of your particular situation.

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