In most cases, people may expect that their child support obligations will end when their child turns 18-years-old. While that can be the case, there are situations when child support obligations will continue once the child becomes an adult. One such situation is when the child is still in school. In a recent decision issued by the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, the court was asked whether a father still had to pay child support in relation to an 18-year-old child who reached that age during her last year of high school.
Child is still in high school but earning money
The child in question, referred to as “M”, was 17 when she began high school in September 2019. She attended school full time and was expected to graduate the following June. During the second half of the school year, she held only one “academic course” while the rest of her time was spent in the school’s Registered Apprenticeship Program. In this program, she trained to be a parts technician. During this program, the child was paid for her work. Between January and June 2020 she earned a gross income of $15,628 (or about $2,600 per month). One last detail of note is that M turned 18 in January 2020.
Father says he should no longer have to pay child support
The father submitted to the court that given the income earned by M during her second semester, she should not have been considered a child of the marriage from the date of her birthday (January 15, 2020) onward. The mother, meanwhile, stated that notwithstanding the income earned by M, she was still a child of the marriage because she is a full-time student.
The mother cited a number of cases in which child support was still required after a child reached 18, particularly a 2010 decision where the child remained in high school and depended on the parents for support.
The father pointed to the Federal Child Support Guidelines which he said supported his position that the amount of s 3 support for a child over 18 should be determined depending on the means, needs, and other circumstances of the child.
Was M still a child of the marriage?
The court noted that M was making $18 per hour for regular hours and $27 per hour for overtime hours, with both amounts higher than the $15 minimum wage. Simply put, the court stated that M was making more than someone who would be making minimum wage would expect to make during this time.
The court stated it was hard to accept that M was still dependent on her parents during this time, or that she would not have been able to remove herself from their care while completing her last year of school. The court found this alone to be enough to dispose of the issue, ruling that M ceased to be a child of the marriage on her 18th birthday by virtue of her employment as an apprentice parts technician.
If you have questions about spousal or child support rights or obligations, call a member of our family law team at HMC Lawyers at 1-800-480-3534 or contact us online. We represent clients primarily in Calgary and surrounding areas.