Family law: Paying child support after a child turns 18

There are times when child support doesn't end when a child turns 18 years old. British Columbia family law rules indicate that, if there is a maintenance order or an agreement that states otherwise, a payor must continue to pay child support until the order is no longer in effect or until the date stipulated in an agreement, which could mean until a dependent child finishes his or her post secondary education. Other factors that make an older child a dependent can include the child continuing to live at home, having a disability or a chronic medical condition, or being unable to find sustainable employment to live on his or her own.

British Columbia has the Family Maintenance Enforcement Program (FMEP), which operates under the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act (FMEA). Payors pay their support to the program, which then disseminates the payments to payees. It is also responsible for monitoring and enforcing any support orders or agreements. Prior to a child reaching the age of majority -- or 18 years old -- a payee must inform FMEP of the child's circumstances, after which time FMEP will decide if support should continue or not. 

If the payor is ordered to continue payments, FMEP will periodically check on the payee's circumstances to monitor if they've changed. If either the payor or the payee disagree with a FMEP decision, he or she can petition the court to re-evaluate child support. A family court judge will then decide.

A British Columbia family law lawyer may be able to advise a client -- whether a payor or a payee -- on paying or collecting child support after a child turns 18. Many payors are under the assumption that their payments will stop when their children turn 18. A lawyer can provide further insight as to why that might not be the case.

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