As I reported back this past summer, a court challenge by a single mother of a 22- year-old disabled young man, based on an asserted breach of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, succeeded in upending the law relating to the eligibility for child support for such disabled adults. The mother had successfully claimed that the child’s father – to whom she was never married – should continue to have a support obligation for the son they had together. She convinced the court that as compared to married parents, the differential treatment parents in her situation was contrary to Charter values.
On the heels of this decision, the Ontario government had promptly announced plans to amend the provincial legislation governing child support by way of Bill 113, as I reported shortly after the ruling was released.
Those amendments, included in omnibus budget legislation called the Stronger, Fairer Ontario Act (Budget Measures) Act, 2017 (Bill 177), were introduced on November 14, 2017. They alter the provisions of the Ontario Family Law Act, so that the legislation now requires that every parent provide support, to the extent that the parent is capable of doing so, for his or her unmarried child who is “unable by reason of illness or disability to withdraw from the charge of his or her parents.”
The legal impact of the upcoming amendments is that:
- the category of adult children who are eligible for child support is now expanded (since previously it included only adult children who are attending school full-time);
- the child support obligation applies in respect of not only children of parents who are married, but also those with unmarried parents; and
- the Family Law Act is now in-line with federal Divorce Act legislation, and with the law in many other Canadian jurisdictions.