“Child Of The Marriage” Vs. “Child Of The Relationship” – An Area In Need Of Reform?
Our firm recently represented a mother of a 19-year-old child in a child support matter. The child suffered from a disability which had prevented her from graduating high-school with the rest of her classmates. Despite the fact that the child continued to be enrolled full-time in high-school studies, her father (to whom our client was never married) had filed a court application to terminate child support. The matter was heard before the Hon. Mr. Justice P.R. Jeffrey, who declared the child a child of the relationship thereby entitled to ongoing financial support from her father.
The outcome of the Application was expected. In fact, the child may very well be entitled to support beyond receipt of her high-school diploma, depending on her educational enrollment and pursuits thereafter.
But for how long? According to the Family Law Act, the child may be entitled to financial support up until she reaches the age of 22 years, but certainly not beyond. In contrast, children born of marriage and thereby (typically) governed by the Divorce Act of Canada may be entitled to financial support beyond age 22. In any event, potential entitlement is not capped at age 22 as it is under the Family Law Act.
Why this discrepancy? In today’s world, where post-secondary education is critical to success and livelihood, there are swarms of college and university students over the age of 22. Why should the legal entitlement of those children born outside of wedlock, to parents fully capable of contributing to their success, be any lesser than those children born within marriage?
The discrepancy is an archaic double-standard, which in our view requires revisiting.