The Eternal Caregiver: The Entitlement of Adult Children to Support
Gary Cole is heading for divorce with his actress wife of 25 years, Teddi Siddall. Teddi filed for divorce last week, and lists February 8, 2015 as the date of their separation. They have a 24-year-old daughter named Mary. Teddi is making a claim for spousal support and adult child support for Mary, who has autism.
In Ontario, a parent's obligation to pay child support typically ends when the child reaches the age of majority and/or is no longer a full-time student. However, section 2(1) of the Divorce Act creates an obligation for parents to continue paying support for a child who is over the age of majority but unable due to illness, disability, or other causes to withdraw from parental care or obtain the necessities of life.
Keep in mind that disability does not justify a support order - it is the aspect of being unable to withdraw from parental care due to the disability that forms a basis for adult child support. Furthermore, if Mary cannot live independently because of her disability, then she may be entitled to receive ongoing support despite being beyond the age of 18.
It is important to note that the Divorce Act only applies to married spouses and child support must be claimed within the divorce proceeding. Unmarried parents and separated legal spouses who are not divorcing must apply for child support under the Family Law Act. There is not a provision in the Family Law Act that entitles a child over the age of majority to support on the basis of disability.