When does child support end?

Child support ends when a child turns 19 unless they can't take care of themselves because of:

  • illness,
  • disability, or
  • some other reason, including if they're going to school.

Often, parents whose children are at university, college, or in another type of post-secondary education still have to pay child support. The institution the children attend could be a university, college, technical college, or any other accredited post-secondary school that offers a degree, diploma, or certificate.

If a child's still living with their parents, child support under the federal Child Support Guidelines usually continues to be paid to the parent the child lives with for most of the time or, in shared parenting situations, to the parent who earns less. If your child's living away from home for their post-secondary education, whether or not you need to support them and how much support will be required will depend on:

  • the age of your child
  • whether your child's educational goals are realistic (that is, is your child likely to get a job soon after graduation?)
  • whether your child's studying full-time or part-time
  • whether your child can help pay for their post-secondary education through student loans or other financial help
  • whether your child can work part-time to help pay for their own support
  • your child's past academic performance and how likely they are to be successful in their post-secondary education
  • your own and the other parent's views about post-secondary education for your children that you talked about or agreed about when you were married or living together (you might have called it a common-law relationship)

Usually child support isn't paid for children over the age of 19 who're living at home and not attending a post-secondary institution unless the child has a disability that affects their ability to look for work or attend post-secondary education. In that case, the parent would be entitled to child support.

A child with a disability might be eligible for some sort of government disability support benefit and that would be taken into account in deciding how much child support should be paid.

Often, the parents of a child who's 19 or over might be able to agree that support no longer needs to be paid. If you can't agree about this, you could get help from a mediator or ask a court to decide for you.

Can child support end before a child turns 19?

Yes, child support can end before a child turns 19 if they get married or choose to leave home. But if they leave home because of family violence or intolerable living conditions, parents' child support obligations don't end.

Child support for children over 19 can be complicated. It's a good idea to talk to a lawyer about it. See Tips about getting legal help for where to find a lawyer.