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Child Support – When Does It Legally End?

In British Columbia, child support officially ends when a child reaches the age of 19. However, exceptions exist. Under certain circumstances, children of divorced or separated parents may continue to receive support payments either before or after the official age. Our post this week examines both of these possibilities.

Support For Children Over 19

Alhough considered adults by the age of 19, certain situations may result in a child continuing to depend on parents for the necessities of life.

One scenario involves children who suffer from an illness or disability. The condition may be chronic, but it can also include temporary conditions such as certain cases of depression. Even where a d is permanent, a child may be eligible for other or additional financial assistance through governmental disability support programs.

Another situation in which a parent may continue providing support is where an adult child is pursuing a post-secondary education with the expectation of gaining a degree, diploma or certificate, and eventual employment. However, each case is unique and, in deciding, a court would consider such factors as: 

 

  • The child’s age and academic performance
  • Whether the child has the capacity to shoulder costs through part-time employment, student loans or other financial means
  • The parents’ views on, or any prior existing agreements regarding post-secondary education for their children

Even if a child is over 19, not currently pursuing post-secondary education, and unemployed, he or she may still be eligible for support. Assistance may be granted if, for instance, the child lives in an area of low opportunity or chronic unemployment, and has tried without success to shoulder financial responsibility.

Ending Support Before A Child Turns 19

If a child gets married before age 19, child support can end early. Termination may also happen when a child leaves home before becoming an adult, but only on the condition that the departure was voluntary and not as a result of family violence or intolerable living conditions.

Outside of legislated parameters, determining when to end or continue child support can be a complicated exercise. The lawyers at Peterson Stark Scott can help divorcing or separating parties to make an analysis and pursue the most appropriate course in this area.

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