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Down Syndrome and Divorce: Your Obligations to Adult Dependants

Your obligations to a child with Down Syndrome are lifelong. They continue after divorce. What if they are an adult and work or go to school? How long does child support go on?

How Support for Adult Dependants is Calculated

In 2015, the Ontario Superior Court heard the case of a divorced parent of a 24-year-old woman with Down Syndrome. The court ruled the amount both parents contributed to her living expenses should cover any shortfall between her government funding and actual cost of living. Luckily for her father, his child support payments dropped from $600 a month to just $350.

Are You Assuming the Worst?

Adults with Down syndrome marry, have children, work, drive and thrive. As adults, they qualify for job coaches, day programs, supportive housing or group and host family homes. Income assistance from the Ontario Disability Support Program or Canada Pension Plan disability benefits offsets essential living expenses. That can assist adults who are unemployed, unable to work or live at home. The province also offers low and modest income families up to $20,000 in bonds and $70,000 in grants to top up a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) that can provide ongoing income.

Are You Expected to Pay Health Care Costs?

Besides mental and sometimes physical disabilities, adults with Down Syndrome have a higher risk of diabetes, weight, cholesterol or vision problems, thyroid illness and leukemia. The Ontario Health Insurance Plan or Ontario Works cover most costs. Income support can pay for prescription drugs and glasses, hearing services and aids like wheelchairs. Extended health benefits at their job or yours can also offset some expenses.

Do You Pay for Schooling Too?

Fortunately, the Ontario government offers educational funding for adults with developmental disabilities. The Passport program, for instance, funds work, volunteer or daily life skills training. You can also plan ahead with a Registered Education Savings Plan or look for student loans and bursaries to contribute to an adult child’s education.

What If Your Dependants Are Independent?

Best case scenario: Your adult child becomes fully or somewhat independent. Axess Law can help you apply to the court to alter your child support. You can still give casual gifts like clothing or set up a RDSP without affecting their eligibility for government support.

Suppose Your Income Changes?

Your adult child may still need your financial support even after government services are added. Should your own financial circumstances change, ask the court or your ex-spouse for relief. Axess Law can help with your petition.

Ask Axess Law If You Have Questions

An Axess Law family law lawyer can answer your questions about financial support for dependent adults. They’re experienced at giving legal advice in any situation. Make an appointment at 1-647-479-0118 or use our online booking form. Lawyers are available 7 days a week, at your convenience. You can talk to us remotely by phone, email or video call.

Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s family law services.


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