Unfortunately, not all marriages end with happily ever after. With time, many couples develop irreconcilable differences, and as a result, these couples may feel that getting a divorce would be best for both parties. Approximately 35 to 42% of all marriages in Canada result in divorce with an average age of divorce being 44.5 for men and 41.9 for women. Separating and distributing assets that have accumulated during the marriage can be difficult, as can determining reasonable child support payments. This article will explain several crucial factors that determine whether a child is eligible for child support payments.
Are you the parent or have you acted as a parent to the child?
First and foremost, it is important to determine which children you and your spouse are responsible for. You and your spouse are both responsible for children that are a result of the relationship. Adopted children and stepchildren are a bit trickier in the eyes of the law. Depending on who adopted the child and the role that you and your spouse have played in the children's life, you could argue in court regarding who is really the parent of the child.
For example, if your spouse has adopted a child previously or has another child from a previous marriage or relationship, you could technically argue that you are not responsible for paying child support payments, as the child is not your responsibility. Your spouse, on the other hand, could argue that you have played a role as a parent to the child for a long enough period of time to be considered as his or her parent; thus, making you responsible to pay child support payments.
Is the child under the age of majority?
The age of majority is the threshold that has been placed to determine adulthood, and is then conceptualized in law. It is the exact age where minors become adults and assume responsibility and control over all of their actions. Depending on the province that you reside in, the age of majority will be either 18 or 19. For example, the age of majority in Alberta and Manitoba is 18 whereas the age of majority in British Columbia and New Brunswick is 19.
If a child is under the age of majority, he or she will be eligible for child support payments. In short, if you have sole custody over the child, your spouse will be responsible for paying child support to help raise and support the child.
If the child is over the age of majority, is he or she considered as a dependent?
If you are a parent or have acted as a parent to the child, but he or she is over the age of majority, then the court will determine whether the child is still considered as a dependent. If the child is considered as a dependent, the court may request that you pay child support for an additional period of time that is dependent on the unique factors of each case. Several factors will come into play when determining whether a child is a dependent, including:
- other causes, such as full-time enrolment in a post-secondary institution
Generally speaking, most courts will recognize enrolment in a post-secondary institution as a reasonable cause. You or your spouse may be responsible for providing for the child until he or she has graduated.
Once the court has determined which children are eligible for child support payments, other factors will be accounted for by the court, such as the annual income of each spouse, to determine what reasonable child support payments may be. If you and your spouse are having disagreements regarding child support payments, it may be best to hire a family lawyer in order to make sure that your children are well provided for or in order to make sure that your spouse does not make unreasonable child support payment requests.