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The good and bad about going to university next year, legally speaking

'Maybe it is time to take a gap year and maybe it is time to earn some income and try to find a job'
(Adobe stock photo)

It is obviously not a normal summer for any of us and that of course includes graduating high school students who have likely been accepted into a university or college for the 2020 fall semester.  

The question is does that specific student shine using online learning or does that student need the one-on-one student-teacher interaction to learn properly.  Other students may not enjoy the first year on campus minus the traditional social activities that would not exist in an online environment.  

Anna-Marie Musson is a family lawyer in Toronto and a collaborative practitioner.  She says many of her client's teens are considering joining the workforce instead of going to school this fall.  

"Maybe it is time to take a gap year and maybe it is time to earn some income and try to find a job," said Musson

"So some of my client's teens are applying for unpaid internships so they are obviously going to be done online as they can try to get some real-world experience in that year so I thought that was an interesting trend as well.

"A lot of my client's kids were really thinking twice about returning to university if they were already in an online format. Or if they are in high school do they really want to start their university experience like this or is there anything else they could do that would be a little bit more meaningful versus school online while still living in my parent's house?"

It is certainly a tough juggling act for parents which becomes even more complicated when the student's parents are divorced.   

Musson says having a student going to school online but living at one parent's home can complicate matters significantly. 

"If divorced parents had paid the tuition upfront or how that was going to be shared that is now an issue because some parents had pre-paid the other parent, so there is an issue of re-capturing that money. Or is it a deferral, but more significantly was the ongoing support issues because there is a question, do you have to pay child support while your child is not enrolled in full-time school and is now in a gap year?" she said.  

"The other issue is that child support is often reduced for parents while the child is living in residence, which is understandable as the parents are sharing the residence cost. But now my child is living full-time with me and going to school, those child support payments need to be increased to recognize that."

She says some of her clients were under court orders to pay these amounts.  

"Because it is a court order you can't just unilaterally make decisions not to do it even though it did not necessarily make sense," she said. 

Musson suggests the best way to navigate this challenge is to avoid going to court.  

"Step number one we are trying to preserve these family relationships," said Musson.  

"Even couples who have been divorced, there is still co-parenting so our number one goal in collaborative law is to help the parents continue to maintain their goodwill, because really at the end of the day, it only benefits the children remarkably well. 

"The last thing we want to do is put the child in between dueling parents in the court system. They have already likely been through that when the divorce came down the pipeline, so they don't want to put them through that again." 

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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