Child Support

Drunk Drivers Who Kill a Parent May Be Liable for Child Support, in Tennessee

Written by Russell Alexander / (905) 655-6335

Drunk Drivers Who Kill a Parent May Be Liable for Child Support, in Tennessee

Drunk driving can have tragic consequences.  Among the most compelling, are cases where a drunk driver has killed an unwitting victim.   And it becomes the families of those victims who are left to deal with the emotional devastation.

Nothing will bring those victims back.  Under criminal law, drunk drivers will ideally face justice for their crime.

Now, the U.S. state of Tennessee has gone further:   It has passed an innovative piece of legislation that would see drunk drivers be financially liable for child support if they kill a parent.

Under a recent Bill passed unanimously by both the Tennessee House and the Senate, drunk drivers will be legally required to pay financial support to a child who loses a parent due to the driver’s own criminal misconduct.   To face this liability, the drunk driver must first have been criminally convicted of “vehicular homicide due to intoxication or aggravated vehicle homicide”.

The child support would be paid either directly to the child or to his or her surviving parent or guardian, until the child turns 18.    However, if he or she is 18 years old and enrolled in college, then the support payments continue until age 21 or the child completes the degree – whichever comes first.

The amount is determined by the court, after considering what is “reasonable and necessary” for the child’s support.  The court must also consider stipulated factors, which include the child’s financial needs, the standard of living to which the child is accustomed, and the existing resources available to him or her.

The new law, which must still be signed by the Tennessee Governor, has hit the headlines nationwide [RA/JA link to:]. Nearly a dozen other U.S. states are also considering similar legislation.

Does Canada need legislation like this?  What are your thoughts?

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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.