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Who is considered a child under the law?

The individual province and territories set the age of majority, though for most, the age of majority is either 18 or 19.

For the purposes of family law, the age of the child is important, because of child support entitlements after the break-up of a marriage or common law relationship.

Child support has to be paid up to the point of age of majority for the child.

Does that mean if a child reaches 18 or 19 they are automatically cut off?

Up until the age of majority, a child is entitled to child support. However, depending on the legislation of the respective province or territory, even if the child has attained the age of majority there may be situations in which he or she still needs child support.

For example, in British Columbia when the child attains the age of majority then child support should cease with the exception of these situations:

  • If the child has an illness and cannot support him or herself;
  • If the child has a disability and cannot take care of him or herself.

If the child is attending a post-secondary educational institution, child support will often continue.

Criminal cases

Unlike family law, criminal law is federal in nature and is regulated by federal statute, mainly the Criminal Code of Canada.

Youth charged with a crime

Under the Criminal Code, if a child is under the age of 18, and he or she is being charged with a criminal offence it will be as a minor. Usually they will be tried in a youth court instead of adult court.

A notable exception to this rule is if you have committed a very serious crime, such as murder, manslaughter, attempted murder, or aggravated sexual assault and you are over the age of 16, it’s likely that you will be tried in adult court.

Age of consent for sexual activity

Age of consent means that this is the age at which a minor can legally consent to sexual activity.

In Canada, the age of consent is 16.  If a child is 12 or 13, he or she can consent to sexual activity with a person who is less than two years older than them. If a child is between If a child is between the ages of 14 to 15 he or she can only consent to sexual activity with a person who is no more than five years older than them.

However, if a sexual activity is considered “exploitative”, which in most cases means pornography, prostitution or the child is in a relationship of power imbalance, then the age of consent rises to 18.

If you are having issues pertaining to any of the above contact a lawyer.

Read more:

When does child support end British Columbia

Has your child been charged with a crime? CLEO

Department of Justice Canada: age of consent to sexual activity in Canada