If your support agreement includes a specific date for when child support will end – such as when the child reaches the age of majority or for as long as the child is going to school full-time – the answer to that question is straight forward: you must continue to pay child support until the date specified in your order or agreement.
If your maintenance order or agreement does not include a specific end date, however, the answer is more complicated.
You can assume that you must pay child support at least until the child reaches the age of majority, but you may have to continue paying child support for some time longer. How much longer depends on your child’s particular living situation and circumstances.
Under the Family Law Act in Ontario, child support is limited to someone under the age of 18 or over the age of 18 and in a full time program of education. Child support must be paid as long as the child remains dependent. A dependent child is any child under the age of 18 unless:
- the child has married, or
- the child is at least 16 years old and has “voluntarily withdrawn from parental control”.
A child who is 18 or older may also be considered dependent if they cannot support themselves because:
- they have a disability or illness, or
- they are going to school full-time. (This usually continues until the child turns 22 years old or gets one post-secondary degree or diploma, but a judge may order support to continue even longer.)
When the judge decides how much support should be paid for a child who is 18 or older, they take into account any earnings or income the child receives from other sources.
Child support continues even if the parent receiving it gets married or starts to live with someone else.