Eligibility of Child Support For the peoples With Disabilities at Handa Law
Eligibility of Child Sup...
May 20, 2019, Admin

Eligibility of Child Support For the peoples With Disabilities
An Ontario Court of Justice case, Coates v Watson, has broadened the child support eligibility for adult children with disabilities of unmarried parents.

Previously, under Ontario’s Family Law Act governing unmarried parents, adult children were eligible for child support only if they are in full-time school. However, under the Divorce Act, an adult child who is unable to live independently due to disability, illness or other reason, is eligible for support.

In this case, the Judge adopted the Divorce Act wording, and matched the federal and the provincial legislation and brought them on an equal level. This ruling enables adult children with disabilities of unmarried parents to claim support who are not able to leave their parent’s care due to illness or any other reason.

Case Facts
In this case, Ms. Coates, an unmarried mother of an adult son with disabilities, successfully challenged her estranged partner in court and was awarded monthly child support of $518.14 for her disabled adult son, throughout his life.

Ms. Coates’ son, Joshua, has a rare genetic composition that prevents him from working and withdrawing from his mother’s care. He has many health problems that necessitate financial support and supervision throughout his life. Joshua has been a recipient of support payments from the Ontario Disability Support Program, Development Services Ontario and Brampton Caledon Community Living programs.

Joshua’s father, Mr. Watson, acknowledged a support obligation for his son until he turned 18. He argued that he was not legally bound to support his son beyond this age because social assistance is available for him. Ms. Coates claimed that the funding received from the various public support programs fail to adequately cover Joshua’s medical and recreational expenses that cost up to $1400 a month. She claimed support from his father, Mr. Watson to bear about $800 or approximately half of the actual expenses.

The Decision And Legal Implications
The Judge concluded that section 31 of the Family Law Act violates Joshua’s section 15(1) Charter rights that guarantee that every individual is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection of the law without discrimination. The Judge concluded that the law discriminates between adult, disabled children of once-married parents and adult, disabled children of never married parents. Section 31 of the Family Law Act is not saved by section 1 of the Charter.

This decision gives hope to single parents caring for children with disabilities and opens the door for unmarried parents caring for adult children with disabilities to claim child support for them.
 
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