How Long Do Parents Have to Support Their Children?

 In Ontario, all parents have an obligation under the Family Law Act to support their children, and this includes paying for the child’s education if they are enrolled in school full-time.   When parents are separated or divorced, the support obligation will naturally be allocated between them.

Since the Act contains no set age-limit at which support for a child is automatically cut off, the question often arises as to how long parents must support a child, particular in cases where a child is older and intends to go to college or university and perhaps obtain more than one degree.    

Under Ontario law, a parent’s support obligation continues as long as the child is a “child of the marriage”, which status can extend beyond the age of majority provided the child has not withdrawn from “parental control”. This means parents may still be required to support adult children who are still living at home while attending school, or who are attending school elsewhere but who rely on the parents to pay tuition and living expenses.

Once the support entitlement toward an adult child has been established, the duration will vary according to the circumstances, after considering numerous factors such as the child’s age, overall best interests, academic goals and performance, as well as the parents’ financial circumstances, educational expectations for the child, and pre-separation lifestyle.   The dollar-amount will likewise vary, and can include some or all of the child’s expenses related to post-secondary education, living expenses, and special or one-time expenses that are out of the ordinary.  Parents may even be required to support their child while he or she pursues multiple degrees, switches study paths, or takes a temporary short-term hiatus from studies. 

The governing factors that determine whether parents owe support for their adult children are numerous and complex.  Shulman Law Firm is a Toronto-area firm of experienced Family Lawyers who can provide tailored, practical advice and effective representation in connection with this topic.   Contact us to set up a free consultation.

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