Mar 4, 2019

22-Year-Old Daughter Not Entitled to Child Support

Taggart v Taggart, 2019 ABCA 78 (CanLII)

In a refreshing decision from the Alberta Court of Appeal, the father of an adult daughter, who dropped out of university, lived with her boyfriend, and then returned to her mother’s home and started back at college, was successful in resisting his ex-wife’s claim that he should be paying child support and contributing to the costs of her university expenses. The reason this case is refreshing is because more often than not, adult children are “babied”, found to be “dependent”, and never expected to face the reality of their new grown-up world.

In Taggart v. Taggart 2019 ABCA 78 the parties’ daughter graduated from high school in 2013, took the balance of 2013 off and enrolled in Mount Royal University in January 2014. She attended for two years, all expenses paid, but failed to complete her course of studies. In August of 2016 she moved in with her boyfriend and lived with him for one year, after which she resumed living at her mother’s home at the age of 22, 4 years past high school graduation.

In October 2017 she enrolled in a career college and to her credit, obtained a student loan and a grant award which paid for the costs. She also found part-time employment to assist with her expenses. However, when her mother learned that she had taken out a loan, she brought a court application seeking orders for child support and university expenses from her ex-husband.

Relying on a well-known British Columbia case, Farden v. Farden 1993 BCSC 2570 Canlii, the court dismissed the mother’s application, whereupon she appealed.

On appeal Ms. Taggart argued that where parents have higher incomes, as they did, there was less of a requirement that an adult child need look to student loans to finance post-secondary education. She also argued that the lower court judge focussed excessively on the year that her daughter was out of school and living with her boyfriend.

While the court agreed that children of wealthier parents are not necessarily required to finance their own educations, the appeal court noted that the judge below found that the adult daughter’s circumstances could not be characterized as a financial dependency. The appeal court also confirmed that decisions of lower court judges are entitled to considerable deference.