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Hi, I am Daphna Schwartz from Feldstein Family Law Group. Today I am discussing with you the issue of child support for adult children with learning disabilities.

Most cases are clear. If an adult child is 18 years old and still in full time school, child support will continue. But, what about the 20-year-old adult child still in high school?

The support recipient wants child support to continue until the adult child has finished high school and to continue when the adult child enters post secondary school full time. Most 20-year-olds are either in post secondary school, working or doing nothing. Child support continues in the first case and stops in the latter 2 cases.

What about the 19- and 20- year-olds still struggling through high school? Not the adult child who needs to improve their grades because they need to get into university or need extra time to plan their futures and are making the correct decision to stay in school since the loss of OAC or grade 13. I am referring to the 19- and 20- year-olds that, due to a learning disability, are taking longer to complete their high school education. Some have stayed in their high schools and others have opted for alternative learning education programs recognized by the board of education.

Children who present with learning disabilities, whether verbal or non-verbal, often struggle through elementary and high school. Course loads are modified based on Individual Education Plans (“IEP”). To obtain an IEP, almost always a psycho-educational assessment would have been completed by the school or privately. The same IEP is often adjusted annually and relied upon so that the child can obtain resources within the school in the regular class, in community-based classes, or are withdrawn from the class for various parts of the day.

When a child has a modified program and is required to take fewer courses or credits per semester, he /she will undoubtedly graduate later than his / her peers. The parents really need to discuss these issues early on. As early as when a child is first identified with a learning disability and again at the time of separation. If the latter happens first before identification, the parents need to speak about it. If they cannot, then the payor should make him or herself aware of the child’s IEP, through consultation with the school. To say 10 years later “I did not know my child had a learning disability because the mother (or father) didn’t share that information with me”, is no excuse. Be in touch with teachers, doctors, etc. even if the other spouse has sole custody.

The parent residing with the child who has a learning disability has a big job ahead of him / her; educationally and socially. If the other parent maintains a close relationship with this child, he or she will understand, and want to make the right decisions for his / her child. The money paid monthly to the support recipient is needed. The child is having difficulty, more difficulty than their peers at finishing school. The child support paid until the child finishes school is needed by the support recipient, who would otherwise have to support this child on his or her own. The goal is to allow this child to finish high school at whatever age he or she can and continue into post-secondary education or to find a job catered to his or her needs. If this child continues his or her education in post- secondary school or trade school, he or she would still be supported financially through child support.

If you have more questions about this or any other legal issues, please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation at 905-581-7222 or visit our website at Thanks for watching.