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Parent support – a legal obligation

June 2009

We all know of the quarrels that go on regarding child support, especially in the context of divorces. But once children reach adulthood, what financial support do they owe their parents?

Under Quebec law, parents and children owe each other support where there is a need. So, do parents ever sue their children for support? Yes. Are they successful? Sometimes.

The support you owe your children when they are young is an all-embracing maintenance that includes educating and feeding them as well as providing them with a certain lifestyle. The support your children owe you is that necessary to provide you with the bare necessities when you are not capable of providing them for yourself. Any help awarded by the court will take into consideration the needs and circumstances of all parties and the time necessary for the parent to acquire sufficient autonomy to support him or herself.

A 52-year-old mother who was no longer working and was about to be evicted from her apartment sued her three sons for support. She had sold her house and moved to the city, which she couldn’t afford, without any thought to the future. Her children had forewarned her that they would stop all financial help. The court held that she was capable of working and had an obligation to support herself. However, it would take her some time to find work and she could not be left destitute. The judge ordered the sons to pay support for four and a half months, in an amount commensurate with their ability to pay, and to pay their mother’s back rent. He also ordered the mother not to bother them directly or indirectly by telephone, correspondence or otherwise under pain of contempt. The judge was apologetic about his judgment and explained to the sons that it was a matter of justice and he dared hope they would understand his thinking on the matter.

In another case, a mother claimed support from her four children. She had been receiving alimony from her ex-husband, who had moved to the United States. She was receiving a disability pension and had received cash amounts at the time of her divorce. She had a house, but refused to sell it and she continued to spend compulsively, incurring large credit card debts. One of her children had loaned her money to help pay her debts; the others didn’t have the means to do so. The court held she should sell her house and use the money either to supplement her pension or to chase after her ex-husband. Her motion for assistance from her children was denied.

Whether or not a parent will be successful in claiming support from a child will depend on the circumstances. But if the right to make such a claim does exist and the child against whom it can be or has been made predeceases the parent, the right will survive the death of the child. This means that if a child who has been helping you out financially, or has an obligation to do so, should pass away leaving his assets to those other than you, you have a right to claim financial help from the estate. This must be done within six months of the death.

A child can fulfill his obligation toward his parent by taking that parent into his home. One mother was receiving financial assistance from three of her children who were no longer able to continue supporting her. She then asked for social assistance and instituted proceedings against her two remaining children, who were better off. One of those children, a son, offered to take his mother into his home. The mother didn’t want this, saying that living with him would be intolerable as she would have no privacy. The judge found this was not a sufficient reason to refuse his offer and held the son’s obligation would be fulfilled by taking his mother into his home and providing her food. He ordered the remaining children to pay support to their mother in amounts commensurate with their means.

Most of us hope we will never need our children’s financial help, and we hope they love us enough to offer it if we do. However, it is comforting to know that a court can order it should it ever become necessary.



At September 13, 2009 at 12:39 PM , Anonymous Plussixfeet said...

Ignatieff a Deadbeat Dad?

Can someone check this out and verify if it's true? Looks pretty valid.

Google Ignatieff Deadbeat and you will find it.

More Iggy skeletons - poor guy.


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