December 9, 2022

My son just went away to university, does my child support change?

What happens to child support when my child moves away for school?

Lots of questions to be asked here. Where you start from matters.

Do you already have a court order for child support?

If you already have a Court Order that sets your child support, or a written Separation agreement that sets it out, or nothing at all makes a difference. The answers to those move you in different directions. We will deal with each in turn.

You already have a Court Order

If your court order does not deal with the university/college issue, and often that is the case when you separate and have young children, then a child going away to college/university triggers something in the law called a “material change” in the circumstances of your child.

Just because your child support was set up by a court order does not mean you must get another court order to deal with the issue of university. You can do a domestic agreement under the Family Law Act to change your child support. If your first court order is registered and being administered through the Family Responsibility Office, they need a court order or a signed domestic agreement to implement any changes. In a situation where the other parent will not discuss or negotiate with you to settle the issue by way of a domestic agreement, then you must apply to the Court to change your first court order. This is called a Motion to Vary.

You already have a written Domestic Agreement

In this case, look to your domestic agreement first. Often when people do them and they have young children, their lawyers will put in clauses about college/university that you may have breezed over at the time as it was not relevant to you then. Sometimes these agreements can be lengthy. Some over 30 pages and have lots of legalese. If you have one, look to the Child Support sections and you may locate terms dealing with college or university. Start there as it will tell you what you have already agreed to.

If you have a domestic agreement but it says nothing about university or college then it likely says something about child support being open to a “material change”. Look to your dispute resolution clauses and that will give you some instructions on how you go ahead with this issue.

You have nothing at all – no court order and no domestic agreement

In this situation, you start from scratch. It may have been that you just recently separated, or you have had no formal agreement in place and you wonder what you do now.

A child leaving home to go to university or college means you must establish first that the child is registered and attending full time. Following that, you provide (or obtain) confirmation of costs and engage in negotiations with the other parent on payment of them. Failing a resolution, you engage in the Court process.

We can help you understand what process you need and what forms you need to complete to move the issue ahead. You may be disagreed, but there is a bright side. Your child is continuing their education. Give us a call to assist if you need guidance.

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