Case law provides for children receiving support through their first post-secondary degree. Parents share in proportion to their gross income the cost of tuition, books, residence, etc. associated with post-secondary education. If a child were to drop out of school, leave home (other than to attend school or for summer employment or a vacation), go to work or marry, and be self-supporting, child support would stop. If a child were unable to be self-supporting due to illness, disability, education, or any other cause, child support would continue.
Usually, an age is set to terminate child support based on the expectations of when the child will be self-supporting. Until the obligation to pay child support terminates, the payor needs to maintain an amount of life insurance that will cover any obligations should he or she die. The other parent is almost always the beneficiary in trust for, or on behalf of, the child.
Sometimes, there are negotiations around whether the tuition should be paid directly, or whether there should be some reduction while the child is away at school; however, usually the residential parent does not rent out the child’s room while he or she is away, and they often provide a “living allowance” to the child and pay for clothes, food, telephone, or transportation. Some parents expect some contribution from the child, e.g. from summer jobs.
Many children take a year off at some point to gain experience, travel, or discover their future direction, and this is often an important time to think before they commit to a career path. Also, some children need to take an extra year to get the grades they will need for their 2nd post-secondary degree. At this point, parents make a personal choice regarding further financial assistance.
In addition, you need to think about your personaI values with respect to helping your child have the opportunities he or she needs to get a start in life — what would you have hoped your parents would offer you? What do you want your children to explain to your grandchildren with respect to their parent’s support?
Dr. Barbara Landau, president of Cooperative Solutions, is a Toronto psychologist, lawyer, and mediator who assists separating families in creating parenting plans, improving their communication in the best interests of their children, and arriving at fair financial settlements. She is this year’s recipient of the prestigious John M. Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award for her contributions to the field of mediation.