Child Support: Who contributes towards the payment of post-secondary education?

Child Support: Who contributes towards the payment of post-secondary education?

Separated parents may be surprised to learn that their obligation to pay child support can extend well past their child’s 18th birthday. In Alberta, the Family Law Act, SA 2003 c F-4.5, and/or the Divorce Act, RSC 1985, c 3 (2nd Supp), govern the payments of child support. It has been widely acknowledged that children who are attending post-secondary education or training still require financial support from their parents.  In turn, Courts have a and continue to routinely order both separated parents to support their child(ren) through that education or training.

The calculation of child support payable for a child attending post-secondary education or training is highly variable. There are many factors that must be considered to determine the appropriate amount of child support payable for a post-secondary student. These factors include, but are not limited to:

a)       The financial circumstances of the parents and their ability to fund the child’s education;

b)      The financial circumstance of the child including their ability to work or otherwise contribute to the cost of their post-secondary education via scholarships, bursaries or other government funding;

c)       The availability of any savings, RESP, inheritances or other funds available to the child for their post-secondary education;

d)      The institution that the child is attending or plans to attend, the nature of their studies, and the child’s enrollment status (full time or part time);

e)      The child’s relationship with their parents;

f)        The child’s academic commitment and performance;

g)       Any agreements made between the parents in relation to support of the child through post-secondary education;

h)      The child’s tuition and proposed costs of living while attending post-secondary education.

In many cases the child’s tuition, fees and books for post-secondary education or training are considered Section 7 child support expenses (also referred to as special or extraordinary expenses). Parents may be obligated to share these Section 7 expenses on a basis proportionate to their individual annual incomes; however, there may also be a finding that the child has an obligation to contribute to the costs of their post-secondary education or training.

Depending on the post-secondary institution a child attends and where they reside during their attendance, the cost of a child’s completion of post-secondary education can be substantial. To avoid any unexpected expenses or conflict it is important that separated parents understand their rights and obligations in relation to child support.

The lawyers at Family Central Law Office LLP have experience litigating and negotiating conflicts of this nature, and can assist you in navigating conflicts in relation to the payment of your child’s post-secondary expenses.  Please contact us today for a free consultation with our family lawyers by calling our office at 587-392-7970 or emailing, or by clicking on our consultation page.

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