Calculating Post Secondary Child Support In Alberta

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Post Secondary Child Support Calculations

Clients often call our Calgary lawyers to determine the amount that they are required to pay for their children’s post secondary education after the parents divorce. As a general rule, child support remains payable for a child over the age of 18 years who is enrolled in full time or part time studies in post secondary education. For the purposes of post secondary child support, this education must be at a recognized accredited educational institution. This means that post secondary child support is payable for universities, colleges, trade schools, and more.

Applications For Child Support To Attend University / School

The amount of child support that each parent is to pay varies. The amount is based on the means, needs and circumstances of the parents and of the child. Typically a parent will bring the application seeking the support be paid. However, in some instances a child can bring the application on their own. The application for support or financial disclosure must be filed while the child is still enrolled in and attending school. The support payments can be made to the other parent, the child directly or even the third party schools. It differs depending on the circumstances of the particular file.

How Much Is Paid For Post Secondary Child Support?

The starting point for determining how much support is to be paid revolves around the residence of the child. Is the child living at home or is this child attending university or college out of town or living on their own?

If the child is living at home while attending post secondary education then the Courts may use the Child Support Guidelines as a starting point. Ruling the base support payments shall continue and the section 7 schooling expenses are to be split in proportion to the parties’ income after any financial contributions of the child are taken into account.

Is the child attending school out of town or living on their own? The first step is to have him or her complete a year round budget. The budget created will include all of their projected expenses, including any summer expenses. Following the budget review, the parties and child must then look at what the child can reasonably contribute towards their own expenses with the net remaining expenses to be then paid for by the parents in proportion to their income levels.

Requirement For Child To Contribute To Own Education Costs

Except in situations of significant family wealth, a child is expected to contribute to their own expenses after they turn the age of 18. A child’s source of contribution can come from their employment income, scholarships, bursaries, family trusts, savings, other assets and even student loans. As a general rule, the Court will not require the child to maximize their ability to obtain student loans unless the family unit is in an impecunious situation and it is deemed to be an unreasonable demand to be placed on the parents. There is a recent series of case law, which utilize a “laddered approach”. This means that the child is to increase their financial contributions each year as they age and their ability to earn income increases. Most clients want to know their obligations and when they end for post secondary support.

Additional Factors Court’s Consider For Education Support

The issue of post secondary child support is highly discretionary. This means judges make decisions that don’t necessarily fit within a standard predictable basic framework. A judge will analyze the particular facts of each file and then make a determination of what is reasonable in the circumstances. This is based on the evidence before them. Some factors the judge will consider, and which may have the effect of reducing the child support obligation, include the following:

  • Breakdown of the parent and child relationship that can be attributed to the actions of the child solely.
  • A child who is not diligently pursuing their education and / or is jumping from program to program with no clear career plan.
  • A child who has taken a pro-longed period off after high school and whom has been living independently throughout that period of time thereby leaving the parents to believe their support obligation has ended already.
  • If a child has a poor academic history or is failing to produce results in their selected program of studies.
  • Any other children or other dependents for whom the parents still owe support.
  • The overall financial means and circumstances of the parents and their ability to contribute.
  • If the child has access to capital or income such that they do not actually require financial assistance from their parents (ie. an apprenticeship programs where a student can earn $35,000 annually or significant savings)

Why a Lawyer Consultation is Necessary

Unlike standard child support applications for children under the age of 18, post-secondary child support is an area where the assistance of a lawyer is extremely beneficial. Given the issue is highly discretionary it is important the appropriate evidence and legal positions are taken in front of the Judge from the very first hearing in order for a party to achieve a successful result.

Getting The University / College Child Support Help You Need

At Kahane Law, Farrah Hansen, is the leading lawyer and published author on the topic of Child Support in Post-Secondary Studies in Alberta. She will provide a flat rate review and assessment of this issue for $650. Call today 403-225-8810 (toll-free at 1-877-225-8817), or email us directly here.