Skip to content
Sponsored Content

Child support in Ontario: how long is financial support legally required to be paid until?

Financial payments cover the costs associated with raising a child, including food, clothing, education, transportation, and housing.
A major proportion of divorce processes is associated with child support arrangements. Credit: LightFieldStudios/iStock.

In Ontario, divorce laws say that a child under the age of 18 is entitled to financial support from both parents as if they were still together. Though the number of divorces – both across the country and in Ontario itself ­– has dropped since 2019 after years of increase, today’s divorce rate can still be as high as 40%.

A major proportion of divorce processes is associated with child support arrangements. In Ontario, the amount of child support paid depends on the number of children who receive support, the children’s age, as well as income of the parent expected to provide financial support. The payments usually cover the costs associated with raising a child, including food, clothing, education, transportation, and housing.

Here is some key information about child support in Ontario, which also covers cases in which child support could continue after the child comes of age.

How long does child support legally last?

The law in Ontario states that child support should be paid until the child reaches the age of majority or 18 years of age. Child support can be stopped if the child is able to start supporting themselves straight away after reaching majority. This means that if the child is able to find a job and start earning money after finishing school, child support may come to an end.

However, this is not always the case, and a child reaching the age of 18 does not mean that child support stops automatically. For example, if the child turns 18 and still requires support from both parents to continue full-time education, payments may continue until their graduation. In some specific cases, when the child has a disability or is unable to support themselves financially due to other circumstances, child support may be extended even beyond the age of 22.

All this simply means that there is no set date for the termination of child support payments in Ontario, and each case is reviewed with regard to personal circumstances.

Conditions for supporting children over 18

The extension of child support payments after a child turns 18 depends on a range of factors. If the child enrolls in a university or other institution offering post-secondary education, such as a college or a vocational school, both parents might still be obligated to offer financial support since the child is unable to do so.

The duration and amount of child support payments also depend on the income of the parent, the age of the child, their level of education, health conditions, and overall financial needs.

It also doesn’t mean that child support should automatically continue if the child over the age of 18 enrolls in post-secondary education ­– though such a decision could be made by both parents. According to experts at the divorce consultation firm Simple Divorce, one alternative is for the child to apply for financial assistance through the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) or use other similar sources. This way, if the child is considered to be financially independent, child support may be terminated even when they are still at school.

Experts from Simple Divorce also comment that it is vital for parents in the process of divorce to discuss financial possibilities with children and learn about their expectations before making life-changing decisions. It is also advised to speak to a family lawyer to make sure that parents and children are able to meet all legal requirements for child support to continue or to stop.

What you need to do to stop child support

When a parent wishes to stop child support payments and has already consulted with the former spouse, children who receive support, as well as a family lawyer, they may file a motion with the court or, alternatively, conclude a written agreement with the recipient of payments. After the motion is filed, the court will review it and make a decision about whether child support should be continued or terminated.

The parent in question must continue payments until the moment the decision is made by the court or the written agreement is signed. Otherwise, the payor may face legal consequences if the court decides that child support should be continued or in case a formal agreement has not been received from the recipient, who may then file a dispute.