When a man and a woman become parents in Alberta, their obligations to that child do not depend on their marital status. Unmarried parents may still both be required to support the child financially, just the same as they would after a divorce. Certain conditions of child support, however, vary depending on whether the parents were ever married. That is the bone of contention for one woman seeking extended support for her adult son, and revision of family law in her province.
The 47-year-old single mother has been raising her son alone since his birth. He is now 21 years old, but because of a medical disorder, he functions at a Grade 2 level. Though a polite and productive young man, he is prone to anxiety and obsessive compulsive behaviour, and his doctor says he will need to be supervised and cared for his entire life.
Toward that end, his mother has enrolled him in many publicly funded programs over the years, but he became ineligible for most of those after he turned 21. She claims she cannot afford to pay for private care without continued child support from the boy's father, a man she never married, or even dated. Had they been married and divorced, he would likely still have to pay support, despite the boy's age.
The father believes he is no longer responsible for the young man financially. In fact, he is seeking repayment of the last three years of support he provided. He claims the boy's attendance in school between the ages of 18 to 21, which entitled him to support as an adult, was not sufficient to warrant payment.
The boy's mother is challenging the constitutionality of the Family Law Act in Ontario, and hopes to restore support to her son. It is a tough situation for both parents: one feels a lifelong obligation to help her son, while the other believes his obligation to a child he doesn't know is over according to the law. In a challenging situation like this one, seeking advice and assistance from an Alberta family law firm may provide clarity and direction for everyone involved.
Source: Caledon Enterprise, "Brampton mother seeks child support for disabled adult son", Laurie Monsebraaten, Nov. 19, 2016