Can a Kid Bring His or Her Own Support Claim?
In past articles I have discussed the fact that parents have a legal responsibility to support their children through their education, even past the age of 18 in most cases. The extent and duration of this child support will vary from case to case.
In a recent Ontario decision called Miller v. Mitchell, the question arose whether that obligation persisted even where the child was no longer living with either of the parents, and indeed had arguably withdrawn from their care and control. In this scenario, the child had effectively brought a stand-alone claim for his own child support.
The facts involved the 23-year old son who had dropped out for a while, but had then returned to school full-time. He was currently in his fourth and final year of an undergraduate program at university. Although he had become essentially estranged from his divorced parents and did not live with either of them, he applied independently for child support to cover his educational expenses.
After looking at the facts, the court granted the son’s request.
It concluded that under the circumstances he was still a “child of the marriage” to extent required to trigger the parents’ support obligations under the legislation. It also observed that “child support is not payment for being a dutiful, communicative son or daughter.”
The court accordingly ordered the parents to pay the child’s educational costs, but added that the son was required to provide proof of his full-time attendance in school at the beginning and end of each academic year.
Incidentally, in considering how long the child support payments should continue for this 23-year old, the court made an interesting observation:
The support payments shall continue for so long as the applicant is attending university on a full-time basis. The old rule of thumb that only a first degree should be contributed to by the parents has been eclipsed by the present reality, in respect of which I take judicial notice, that such a degree no longer provides an automatic entrée to remunerative employment.
For the full text of the decision, see:
Miller v. Mitchell, 2013 ONSC 7021