Entitlement to Child Support for Adult Children

byKristen Tannas

The obligation to pay child support does not necessarily terminate when a child turns 18, the age of majority in Alberta.

According to the federal Divorce Act and Alberta’s Family Law Act, child support may continue to be payable for a child over the age of majority where that child is unable to withdraw from parental charge or obtain the necessaries of life for some reason, which may include disability, illness or enrollment in full-time education.

Enrollment in post-secondary education does not guarantee that child support entitlement will continue past the age of 18. When determining entitlement to child support for an adult child attending school, courts often consider the following factors from the 1993 British Columbia case of Farden v Farden:

(1)        whether the child is in fact enrolled in a course of studies and whether it is a full-time or part-time course of studies;

(2)        whether or not the child has applied for, or is eligible for, student loans or other financial assistance;

(3)        the career plans of the child, i.e., whether the child has some reasonable and appropriate plan or is simply going to college because there is nothing better to do;

(4)        the ability of the child to contribute to his own support through part-time employment;

(5)        the age of the child;

(6)        the child’s past academic performance, [and] whether the child is demonstrating success in the chosen course of studies;

(7)        what plans the parents made for the education of their children, particularly where those plans were made during cohabitation; [and]

(8)        at least in the case of a mature child who has reached the age of majority, whether or not the child has unilaterally terminated a relationship from the parent from whom support is sought.

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