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Canadian Laws on Canadian Adult Child Support

28th July 2009
By Kevin Johnson in Legal
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Adult child support invokes the response that most oxymorons entail- say what now? Although adults are not children, some adult children or adult dependants cannot survive on their own and require the assistance of their parents. Some cases that fall under this category are when a son or daughter is mentally disabled or otherwise impeded by afflictions, depending on parents while attending university, or any other case that disallows these 'children' to support themselves.

The Divorce Act slips in a nifty little catchall allowing 'other causes' to be reason for adult child support. The act defines a 'Child of Marriage' as, "[someone] the age of majority or over and under their charge but unable, by reason of illness, disability or other cause, to withdraw from their charge or to obtain the necessities of life." As blurry as the guidelines are for who exactly deserves support, judges have done a good job of restraining the age limit.

Some of the other causes affirming support payments according to case law include pregnancy, unemployment, and post-secondary education. According to the British Columbia Justice presiding in Wesemann v. Wesemann, he refers to his "four-step approach" to determine support:

1. Decide whether the child is a "child of the marriage" as defined in the Divorce Act. If s/he is not, that ends the matter.

2. Determine whether the approach of applying the Guidelines as if the child were under the age of majority ("the usual Guidelines approach") is challenged. If that approach is not challenged, determine the amount payable based on the usual Guidelines approach.

3. If the usual Guidelines approach is challenged, decide whether the challenger has proven that the usual Guidelines approach is inappropriate. If not, the usual Guidelines amount applies.

4. If the usual Guidelines approach is inappropriate, decide what amount is appropriate, having regard to the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of the child and the financial.

At minimum, this and other such meticulous lists depict how considerate judges are on the subject.

In the abstract for Child Support for Adult Children: When Does Economic Childhood End? Nicholas Bala notes, "Reflecting the changes in intact families where young adults are living with their parents longer as well as looking to parents for more financial support, compared to a couple of decades ago, the courts in Ontario and other Canadian provinces are now more likely to recognize the obligation to provide support for adult children." Apparently, now more than ever, offspring are living at home and depending upon their parents far beyond the 18-year benchmark.

Although there is opportunity for exploitation because of its murkiness, adult child case law has done a good job so far of reining in the longevity of support and monitoring who and who doesn't require continued support. Support tends to hinge on certain requirements (if for unemployment, that they are actively searching for work, or in the case of pregnancy that the young lady return to work once the baby is eight months old) that makes it less like welfare and more like welfare-to-work.

It is always recommended to consult a lawyer relating to such matters.

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