Child Support

Child Support

the right of the child.

Children need financial support from their parents, whether those parents are living together or separated.  When parents separate, this usually means that one person has to give the other person money to help support the children. This money is called child support.

Child support orders made in British Columbia are based on the Federal Child Support Guidelines.  These guidelines are a set of rules that the courts and couples who are separating use to work out how much child support a payor has to pay.

The amount is based on:

  1. how much the payor earns,
  2. how many children they have to support, and
  3. where they live.

Although these guidelines prescribed a fixed amount, there are certain circumstances where the amount may be different, such as when paying the guideline amount would result in undue hardship.

Likewise, parenting arrangements where the children spend considerable time with both parents, may result in different calculations under these guidelines.

Adult Children

Generally an obligation to pay child support comes to an end once the child reaches the age of majority, which is 19 in British Columbia.  There are, however, certain exceptions to this. 

An  child over the age of 19 may still be entitled to child support if they are still financially dependent on their parents and are unable to be financially independent due to illness, disability or other cause. A parent may still be obligated to pay child support for a child that has reached the age of majority in the following circumstances:

  • the child continues to attend post secondary school;
  • the child suffers from an illness or disability; or
  • the child is unable to find work and become financially independent.

An adult child suffering from a severe illness or disability that impacts their ability to obtain or maintain work it would be impossible for them to become financially independent from their parents.  This illness or disability may entitle them to child support.

More often then not, the issue of if adult child support arises in circumstances when an adult child is attending post secondary school and as a result they are still financially dependent on their parents. In the leading case of Farden v. Farden, the court set out the following factors when determining if an adult child attending post secondary school is entitled to child support:

  • whether the child is enrolled in a course of studies and whether it is a full-time or part-time course;
  • whether the child has or has not applied for student loans or other financial assistance such as bursaries;
  • whether the child chosen course of study is related to future employment
  • the ability of the child to work part-time in order to contribute to his or her own support;
  • the age of the child;
  • the child’s past academic performance and their current academic performance;
  •  what plans the parents made for the child’s education during their relationship; and
  • at least in the case of a mature child, whether or not the child has unilaterally terminated a relationship from the parent from who support is sought.

It is important to note that each case is different and that the court will consider and weigh a variety of factors when determining if adult child is entitled to child support. Accordingly, you should strongly consider contacting the lawyers at Cote & Evans Trial Lawyers to get legal advice regarding whether you or the other parent has a continuing obligation to pay child support for an adult child.

Step Children

A step-parent is someone who marries a person with children, or who is the unmarried spouse of a person with children. Step-parents don’t have the same automatic duty to pay child support that parents do. In certain circumstances, however, a step-parent can also have a duty to pay child support for the child of their spouse.

According to the law, a stepparent may be required to pay child support if:

  1. He or she has contributed to the child’s living costs for at least one year;
  2. The stepparent and parent have separated; and,
  3. The application for child support is made within one year of the stepparent’s last contribution to the child’s living costs.

While the above sets out the requirements, whether a court will order a step-parent to pay child support depends on the circumstances. When deciding if a stepparent should pay child support, a court looks at the child’s standard of living when they lived with the stepparent, and how long they lived together. The step-parent’s obligation to pay child support is secondary to that of the child’s parents and guardians.

It is a good idea to consult with one of the lawyers at Cote & Evans Trial Lawyers if you are considering an application for child support from a step-parent, or if you are a step-parent who is facing a claim for child support.

Child Support in Shared Parenting

When a child lives primarily with one parent (60% of the time or more), then the other parent pays child support according to a table published by the federal government depending on where they live, the number of children, and their income.

In cases where the parenting arrangements are different from the above, the table amount of child support still provides a starting point, but there are some additional calculations and considerations.

Child Support in Shared Custody

If the children live at least 40 per cent of the time with each parent over the course of a year, this is considered “shared custody” under the Federal Child Support Guidelines.  In that case, both parents calculate their child support obligation, as if the child lived with the other parent, using the tables.  Then, whoever has a higher obligation pays the other parent the difference.  For instance, if Parent #1 had a child support obligation of $750 per month based on their income, and Parent #2 had an obligation of $300 based on their income, then Parent #1 would pay $450 – the difference between the two amounts.  

Child Support in Split Custody

If there is more than one child, and the children live primarily with different parents, then this is considered a “split custody” arrangement under the Federal Child Support Guidelines.  For instance, if one child lives with the father, and one child lives with the mother, then they have a split custody arrangement.

In this case, each must use the Child Support Guidelines to determine what they would owe the other parent based on their own income level and the number of children living with the other parent.  Like in shared custody situations, the parent who would owe more to the other must pay the difference between the two amounts.


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