'Beautiful' Charter decision gives disabled adults right to child support

July 31, 2017
Article Source

Toronto-area family lawyer Ella Aiaseh strongly welcomes the provincial government's move to give adult children with disabilities access to child support.

According to the Toronto Star, Ontario's ruling Liberals promised to make the amendment to the Family Law Act (FLA) after a Brampton mother won the right to claim child support for her 22-year-old disabled son thanks to a court ruling declaring the existing law unconstitutional.

Aiaseh, an associate with Hummingbird Lawyers LLP in Vaughan, Ont., has a framed copy of the Charter above her desk.

"This is a really good change, and I completely support it," Aiaseh tells AdvocateDaily.com. "I'm a big fan of the Charter; it's a work of art, and this is a beautiful s. 15 decision."

The judge in the case found that the FLA violates s. 15 (1) of the Charter, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.

Provincial child support laws, which govern unmarried parents, only make adult children eligible for child support when they are in full-time education. However, the federal Divorce Act dictates that any child unable to live independently because of an illness or disability continues to qualify for support for as long as it's needed.

"You have two laws which recognize a child could be financially dependent in different scenarios, but it didn't make sense when one law only applies to married couples and the other to common-law couples, and you end up seeing discrimination," Aiaseh says.

In response to the decision, an Ontario government source told the Star that it has been planning since last fall to amend the FLA "to essentially mirror the federal Divorce Act."

"As soon as the house is sitting again, we will be able to table an amendment to the bill," the source added.

The child in the case was born with a genetic syndrome that causes several medical problems. According to the Star story, he has trouble paying attention, suffers from anxiety and obsessive compulsive behaviour that means he will require care and supervision for the rest of his life.

Read more: 'Beautiful' Charter decision gives disabled adults right to child support