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Elderly woman suing her children for parental support


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Stories about people failing to pay child support are all over the news, and even in our movies and TV shows. Stories about failing to pay parental support, on the other hand, are a lot more uncommon.


Ken Anderson from Osoyoos, British Columbia, has been fighting a legal battle with his mother since 2000 over parental support. Now elderly, she claims that Ken and his two siblings each owe her $750 a month in support.

According to the law, she has an argument: B.C.'s Family Relations Act does state that adult children are legally responsible for supporting parents that have become dependent because of age or illness.


While the case has been debated in courts for a decade, in the court of public opinion, Ken Anderson seems to be clearly within his rights to not give parental support to his mother: she left him and his siblings when he was 15 years old, and he quit school to support himself and live with other families until he was able to finally settle down.


Does a child have an obligation to support a parent that, when the child was young, abandoned the child and left him to support himself? The common sense answer here, of course, is no, but the current legal framework in B.C. doesn't make it so cut and dry.


The answer isn't necessarily to get rid of the law; there are elderly people in our society who need the support from their families to help them live fully as they grow older. Instead, there needs to be a proviso that establishes some kind of standard of care.


If a parent did not care for the child growing up, then, legally, the child should not be responsible for the care of the parent.

Measuring a standard of care is a bit nebulous, but in cases like that of Ken Anderson, who hasn't had a relationship with his mother since he was 15 years old and who only emerged to ask for parental support, the answer is a little easier. While it is sad that these kinds of practices need to be legally codified and aren't just baked into our cultural and moral code, having a legal framework that understands the nuances of family dynamics is important to avoid situations like this one.



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