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When does child support end?

When does child support end?

The most important obligation that divorcing parents have in the eyes of the law, is that of continuing to provide care for their children after the divorce is finalized. Usually, one parent will be granted the status of custodial parent, while the other will have to pay child support. Child support is a long-term financial commitment that is essential for the well-being of children of divorced parents - but when does child support end?

What is child support? 

First of all, what exactly is child support? It is an ongoing, periodic payment - usually paid on a monthly basis - from the non-custodial to the custodial parent to provide for the essential needs of the children. These needs include the normal expenses of raising a child, such as food, education, clothing, shelter and transportation. It is also important to note that, while child support usually entails the payment of a sum by one parent to another, the care and maintenance of a child is legally the joint responsibility of both parties.

Child support is an entirely separate matter from child custody and visitation. The court will settle these two issues separately and stipulate that they should never cross over. For example, a custodial parent cannot deny visitation rights to the non-custodial parent if the latter fails to pay child support.

How does child support work?

Child support is calculated according to the guidelines set up in each province. Here in Ontario, the Child Support Table Guidelines provide the template for the calculation. The factors that are considered include the respective incomes and expenses of the two parents, and the average monthly costs of supporting the children, among others.

When does child support end?

The minimum age requirement to stop paying child support in all provinces in Canada is 18. As soon as the child reaches this age, child support is no longer legally required. There is one very important condition, however: the determining factor for the cessation of child maintenance is not the age of the child, but whether or not they have become independent. If a child is over 18 and not yet fully independent - due to still being in university, for example, then the parents must continue to provide support until they achieve independence.

Once you reach this point, and there are any outstanding payments from previous years, these back payments are still legally due. They are not written off once the child becomes independent. The law can still take action against you if you fail to cover any back payments that have accrued over the years. 

Divorce is a difficult experience, but the process of getting divorced does not have to be. The process can be smooth, civilized and guided by the law, rather than driven by emotion. Not only can you conclude your divorce without conflict and emotional turmoil, but you can also complete the divorce process quickly and efficiently, with the help of SplitEasy. SplitEasy helps make the divorce process easier by providing the completed divorce documents you will need, whether you are doing it yourself, or taking the case to court. Contact us for more information.