Do I have to pay child support if my child moves out of my house?
When determining whether a parent owes an obligation to support their child, there are times when it must be determined whether the child has withdrawn from parental control. If it is found that the child has voluntarily withdrawn from parental control, the parent(s) will not be under an obligation to support the child. However it is important to note that the withdrawal from control must be a voluntary choice.
The question of whether a child's decision is "voluntary" or not has been discussed extensively by the courts. It is widely accepted that a child's decision to withdraw from parental control is voluntary when they freely make the decision to leave the care and support of their parents and assume the responsibility of maintaining or supporting themselves.
The question of voluntariness is essential in determining whether a parent's obligation to support their child has ended.
What qualifies as "voluntary withdrawal?"
Voluntary withdrawal involves a free choice made by the child to support themselves. A court may find that a child's decision to leave was not voluntary on the basis that the conditions under which they were living were so unbearable that the child had no choice but to leave. In these instances, the court may find that a parent remains obligated to support their child.
When determining whether a child has voluntarily withdrawn from parental control, the courts will look at all the circumstances surrounding the child's decision. They will look to determine whether the child was evicted, or the living conditions were so "unbearable" or that the child had no choice but to leave. Whether the conditions were "unbearable" will be considered from the perspective of the specific child who withdrew from control. This is a subjective question, as what is considered unbearable to one child, may not be for another. Generally, a child's refusal to follow reasonable parenting limits will likely make their withdrawal voluntary.
Case Comment: O.G. v. R.G.
In O.G. v R.G., a seventeen year old university student sought child support from her father and former custodial parent. This case is especially interesting as the child had sought and obtained a declaration under the Children's Law Reform Act that she had withdrawn from the control of both her parents.
The child support application in this case was brought under the Family Law Act, on the basis that the withdrawal from parental control was not voluntary. The court agreed that it was not voluntary, and found that the the father was obligated to support his child despite the judicial declaration. When examining the circumstances, the court found that the child's decision to withdraw from parental control was involuntary for the following reasons:
- The father's controlling nature made his parenting control unreasonable;
- The child's withdrawal was necessary to meet her best interests;
- It was not the child's intention to cut the family bonds with both parents; and
- The father had failed to attempt to repair his relationship with the child.
The questions of whether a child has voluntarily withdrawn from parental control, and whether parental control is relevant to child support, can be complex. If you require assistance of have questions, do not hesitate to get in touch with our office.