Toronto Adult Child Support Alienation and Estrangement cases involve how child support may be impacted when a child wants nothing to do with the support paying parent. Does a parent need to pay child support to a child who refuses to speak to or see them? It’s a heartbreaking situation. Cases focus on the cause of the breakup. Our Toronto Adult Child Support Alienation Estrangement lawyers can help guide you through this legal minefield. Our Toronto office handles medium to high ney worth financial matters as well as high conflict child custody parenting time disputes.
In a series of previous articles such as “How to Deal with Parental Alienation” we discussed the difference between parental alienation and parental estrangement. Parental alienation is where one parent either naively or intentionally and systematically attempts to negatively influence the child’s relationship with the other parent, often leading to the complete breakdown of that relationship. Parental estrangement, on the other hand, is where the child (for whatever reasons: age, gender, common interests, etc.) chooses to spend more time with one parent than the other.
Peter Graburn of our Toronto and Calgary offices explains how this tricky area of family law works.
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But what happens if this estrangement is so extreme as to lead to the complete breakdown of the parent-child relationship? What happens if that breakdown in the relationship happens (or continues) when the child is an adult? And what happens if the adult child seeks financial (ie. child) support from their estranged parent? Does a parent who is estranged from their adult child have an obligation to continue to pay Toronto adult child support to their estranged adult child? Interesting question.
In a previous article on ending adult child support “Calgary Alberta Child Support Lawyers” we indicated that Courts may give some consideration to the lack of an on-going relationship of the parent(s) and (adult) child, citing the Alberta case of CLD v. RJB (2019 ABQB 852), where Justice Labrenz stated (at para. 26):
“It is unacceptable at law and in practice to treat one’s parent as no more than a source of funds, the “parent as wallet” syndrome.”
This followed up on an earlier Alberta case (CJD v. RIJ 2017 ABQB 612) where Justice Graesser stated (regarding a 16-year old daughter who was completely estranged from her mother and the mother’s family) at para. 40:
“Case law recognizes that a parent may not have to contribute to a child’s education past Grade 12 and age 18 if the child is alienated from the parent for no good reason. There is no good reason for the child’s alienation from the mother. It may be unreasonable for an adult child to expect support from a parent that the child wants nothing to do with, other than his or her money.”
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A similar line of comment regarding Toronto Adult Child Support in cases where a parent-child relationship is fractured was expressed in the British Columbia case of Oleksiewicz v. Oleksiewicz (2017 BCSC 228) where Justice Armstrong stated (regarding a situation where a 23 – year old child terminated the relationship with her parent totally on her own without any fault of the paying parent) at para. 35 (quoting the earlier BC case of Jalil v. Jalil, 2015 BCSC 567):
“A parent and child relationship is not just an economic dependency. If a child expects to receive support, it is reasonable the child should have a relationship with the parent who is being asked to pay that support in the absence of conduct by that parent justifying a child’s neglect of the child’s duties towards his or her parent. ”
But perhaps the genesis of this Toronto Adult Child Support concept comes from the Ontario Courts, which go back as far as the 2005 case of Colford v. Colford (2005 Canlii 13032) in which Justice Goodman stated (where the payor father was “completely unwelcome” in the lives of the mother and 21- year old son) (at para. 115):
“Taylor will be 21 soon. It is time that he appreciates that there is a need for him to deal with his father directly and in a more mature manner when it now comes to requests for financial assistance with his future education.”
The “’ parent as wallet’ syndrome” comments (as referred to by Justice Labrenz, above) appear to have started in Ontario in approximately 2006, when Justice DiTomaso stated (in the case of Nitkin v. Nitkin, 2006 CanLii 23153, where child support was being sought from the estranged father of his 18-year old daughter) at para. 109:
“Mr. Nitkin feels that in the absence of any just cause for terminating her relationship with him, he is viewed as nothing more than a “wallet” or cash machine by Brenna and her mother. He submits that Mrs. Nitkin-Siegal’s alienating influences have resulted in Brenna rejecting him. No court has found Mr. Nitkin’s conduct to be deserving of this result.”
This line of comment in Ontario continued in 2012 when Justice Gray of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice stated (in the case of Veneman v. Veneman, 2012 ONSC 6324, where the 19-year old daughter was heavily influenced to sever ties with the father by the mother) at para. 65:
“In this case, there can be no question that Mr. Veneman is nothing more than a wallet. While the allocation of fault or blame for situations of this sort is difficult, at best, it seems to me that in this case both parents must assume a share of the blame.”
The “nothing more than a wallet” line of thought most recently appeared in Ontario Courts in 2018 in the case of Negin v. Fryers (2018 ONSC 959) where Justice Faieta found (concerning a father being asked to pay part of the cost of the postgraduate studies of his estranged 24 – year old daughter) at para. 127:
“Given their lack of contact with Perry, it is clear that Perry is viewed by Taryn and her adult siblings, at best, as nothing more than a wallet. I find that Taryn was no longer a ‘child of the marriage’ effective June 30, 2014. Given all these circumstances, any child support obligations in respect of Taryn under the 2020 Order ended on June 30, 2014.”
Toronto Adult Child Support Alienation Estrangement – Takeaway
In our previous article on ending adult child support, we noted that most courts will usually uphold the obligation to pay child support (even to estranged adult children) except in the most “egregious circumstances”.
Cases across the country have made it clear that for this estrangement to even be considered the on-going obligation to pay child support, the estrangement must have been because of the unilateral withdrawal of the child from the child /parent relationship. In other words, no fault of the paying parent. This, however, will only be one of the factors to be considered in disentitling an adult child to financial support.
Accordingly, does a parent who is estranged from their adult child have an obligation to continue to pay child support to their estranged adult child? Yes, unless the estrangement is caused totally by the adult child.
Call our Toronto family lawyers early on to avoid problems.