Adult Child Support

Legal Matters

Question

I have been paying child support for years and my child is turning eighteen.  Can I stop paying child support? 

Answer

A child’s entitlement to support from his parents does not automatically end when that child turns eighteen.  That entitlement continues as long as the child relies on his parents because of illness, disability, or “other cause.”

The most common case for continued payment of child support after the age of eighteen is where a child is attending college or university.  Post-secondary education is an established “other cause” for which an adult child may continue to rely on his or her parents.  This support usually includes contribution to the costs of education (including tuition, books, supplies and residence expenses if the child resides away from home), in addition to continued monthly child support payable to the resident parent (albeit at a lower rate if the child lives away from home during the course of the school year).  The contribution by each of the parents to the education expenses will be calculated after taking into account a reasonable contribution by the child to his or her own education expenses.

This entitlement to support can continue past a child’s first degree or diploma, depending on the family’s financial circumstances and established expectations, but the entitlement will cease when the Court finds that the child should reasonably be able to support him or herself.

A child’s entitlement to support will also continue if the child cannot is unable to support him or herself due to illness or disability.  The illness or disability can include a psychiatric disorder (such as severe depression or anxiety disorder) or physical or developmental challenges which prevent a child from withdrawing from parental control.