Your obligation to pay child support ends when your child is no longer a dependent child of the marriage as defined by the Divorce Act.

The table amount of child support applies until a child reaches the age of majority. In Nova Scotia that age is 19; thus, if your child graduates from high school at age 18 and has decided not to pursue a post-secondary education you must still pay child support to the primary caregiver until that child reaches the age of 19.

Once a child reaches the age of majority it may not be appropriate to apply the table amount. It really depends on the circumstances of the child. For example, if a 19 year old is attending university / community college and continues to reside with the primary caregiver while pursuing a post-secondary education then the table amount of child support will likely apply and you would continue to pay child support directly to the primary care giver.

If however a 19 year old child lives on campus while attending university it may not be appropriate to pay the table amount of child support during the months the child is in school. You still might be required to pay some child support to the primary care giver especially if the child plans to return home and live with the primary caregiver during the spring/summer months when school is out; however, the amount will likely be a reduced table amount. When the child returns to live with the primary caregiver in the spring/summer months typically the table amount of child support would apply.

In addition to paying the table amount of child support (or a reduced amount of child support for children living away from the primary care giver during the school months), you may also be expected to contribute towards your child’s post-secondary education costs. Typically parents contribute towards the costs of a child’s post-secondary education in proportion to their income after deducting a contribution from the child, bursaries, scholarships, possibly student loans and any government subsidies / tax deductions.

Our courts have recognized that a child’s first degree is often a stepping stone towards a second degree. Thus, a child pursuing post-graduate studies will likely be considered a dependent child and thus parents have an obligation to continue to support their child(ren) in the pursuit of a second degree.

When trying to determine what financial support a parent is obligated to provide to a child/or primary care giver, it is always best to seek the advice of a family law lawyer.

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