Kay Rhodenizer – August 2015
Often separation agreements or court orders only contain general terms for child support to be reviewed when a child completes high school and moves on to post-secondary education, be it university, community college or trade school.
Unfortunately, these general provisions do little to get parents talking about upcoming costs in a timely fashion, fail to provide for some level of support to be paid during the time support is being reviewed, address who will pay school application fees (which can be both numerous and expensive), or address the student’s transferable education credits.
Some agreements and Court orders name the parent who will claim transferable credits but forget that under the Income Tax Act a student may carry forward unused credits to apply to taxable income in future years and must consent to a parent claiming the credits.
By the time a child is ready for university they are also likely to have car costs. They may also have earnings from part-time work, and opportunities for scholarships that are not known until shortly before university begins.
It is often difficult to anticipate all the factors that are taken into account in support for university students, but we encourage parents to think about a more detailed agreement (or if applicable to ask the Court to make a more detailed order), along the following lines using “Susan” as the child for an example:
- The parties shall share Susan’s costs to apply to post-secondary education institutions. On a temporary basis as these costs are being incurred each parent will pay 50% of them. Each parent’s appropriate share of the total of these costs will be determined when support is reviewed with the appropriate payments between parents to adjust for the final share each of them is to make, or failing parental agreement, by a Court.
- As soon as Susan’s post-secondary education plans are known, the parties will review child support with new payments to begin retroactive to September 1, 2017. This review shall cover monthly support for living expenses including car insurance and/or other transportation costs, and each parent’s contribution to tuition, residence fees and meal plans if applicable, student union fees, health insurance (whether through a parent’s plan or a group student plan), uninsured health care and extra-curricular activity costs.
- During the review the parents will consider Susan’s wishes as to use of her transferable education credits. If Susan consents to transfer credits to a parent, the calculation of parental contribution to post-secondary school costs shall be based on the after-tax costs.
- The review shall also consider what Susan is able to contribute to her university costs from her part time earnings, and provide for an adjustment of parental shares if Susan becomes eligible for scholarships or bursaries.
- While support is being reviewed, support payments will continue in the same amounts last ordered by a Court (or mutually agreed to) until the new amount is determined. Those payments will be a credit or debit, as the case may be, against new amounts of support to be paid once the amounts have been agreed to or determined by a Court.