Hello, I’m Deleta Grandy with Feldstein Family Law Group.
Today I’m going to be discussing the topic of entitlement to child support for children who are over the age of 18, but who are not attending full-time school.
As a general principle, once a child is an adult, if they are not disabled or in full-time secondary or post-secondary school, their entitlement to child support ends, as they are no longer a child by statute. However, case law is developing in recognition of circumstances when a child may be over the age of 18, not attending school, but they are otherwise unable to become self-sufficient. A recent decision of the Superior Court of Justice in H.E. v. T.E. is such a case.
H.E. v. T.E. involves an 18-year-old child who is technically enrolled in school, but who does not attend regularly, and is far from completing the requirements for a high school diploma. The Court heard evidence from the child’s mother that the child was depressed and was attending counselling. However, the child’s pediatrician indicated that it was mild depression. The mother claimed that the child’s emotional state and his lack of education meant that he could not discharge from her care.
The Court heard evidence from the father that the mother enabled the child’s behaviour, and that his obligation should terminate, as the child was not actively pursuing an education.
The Court agreed with the father that the medical evidence did not suggest the child had a disability as defined in the legislation and was not entitled to indefinite support. However, this does not end an analysis for entitlement to child support – the Court must continue to determine whether, upon a review of all evidence, a child can become self-supporting. In this case, the Court was of the view that the child could not be self-supporting, and it was ordered that support should continue. The Court noted that the conflict between the parents was not assisting the son in transition to self-sufficiency, and the parties should make best efforts to assist the son in completing his education.
While this case is an exception to the general rule that an adult child is not entitled to support unless they are disabled or enrolled in full-time education, it is important to remember that an analysis of a child’s ability to become self-sufficient is required as part of any discussion related to child support.
If you are looking for additional information on whether or not you have an obligation to support an adult child, please contact us for a consultation at 905-581-7222 or online at www.separation.ca.