There can be a positive obligation on separated or divorced parents to support a child through post-secondary education if that cost is labelled an extraordinary expense pursuant to s.7 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines. That section states that,
Special or extraordinary expenses
7. (1) In a child support order the court may, on either spouse’s request, provide for an amount to cover all or any portion of the following expenses, which expenses may be estimated, taking into account the necessity of the expense in relation to the child’s best interests and the reasonableness of the expense in relation to the means of the spouses and those of the child and to the family’s spending pattern prior to the separation:
(a) child care expenses incurred as a result of the custodial parent’s employment, illness, disability or education or training for employment;
(b) that portion of the medical and dental insurance premiums attributable to the child;
(c) health related expenses that exceed insurance reimbursement by at least $100 annually, including orthodontic treatment, professional counselling provided by a psychologist, social worker, psychiatrist or any other person, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and prescription drugs, hearing aids, glasses and contact lenses;
(d) extraordinary expenses for primary or secondary school education or for any other educational programs that meet the child’s particular needs;
(e) expenses for post-secondary education; and
(f) extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities.
The question this raises in my mind is why separated or divorced parents are subject to this potential obligation when children of parents still together are subject to the vagaries of their parents’ decision. Would a child of parents who are still together be able to secure similar funding if the courts were asked to intervene?