B.C. mom who sued kids for support loses case
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:51PM PST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:53PM PST
A B.C. mother who spent 12 years trying to sue her adult children for financial support has lost her highly-publicized legal battle.
Shirley Anderson launched her lawsuit in 2000 using a rarely-cited clause in the B.C. Family Relations Act, demanding support from her five estranged offspring despite claims she abandoned all of them during their teenage years.
The 74-year-old won, but was awarded only $10 a month from each child and appealed the decision for more money. She eventually dropped her action against one child, and another passed away in Dec. 2010 at the age of 52.
On Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Bruce Butler ended the years of financial uncertainty for her other three children, dismissing the lawsuit by ruling Anderson had no moral claim to the money.
“While I cannot conclude that the claimant abandoned her children, I can conclude that she did not nurture or support them as children. She was ready and willing to leave them to the care of others when it suited her purposes. The resulting estrangement when the children became adults was entirely her fault,” Butler wrote in his decision.
Anderson’s children, Donna Anderson-Dobko, Keith Anderson and Kenneth Anderson, have described the years-long trial as an extended nightmare.
“This case was very difficult for all of the children involved. It put them through an enormous amount of cost, stress and anxiety that frankly was needless and never should have happened,” said Anderson-Dobko’s lawyer John-Paul Boyd.
Butler ruled the children are all entitled to have their costs reimbursed by their mother.
The judge acknowledged that Anderson faced financial hardship raising the children after her husband was injured, and may have suffered from a psychological disorder during their upbringing.
None of that forgives the lack of emotional support she provided, Butler added.
“The evidence of all of the respondent children describes an unhappy childhood at the hands of an uncaring mother. It is no coincidence that all of the children had similar experiences with the claimant.”
Anderson, who suffers from lupus and arthritis, told the court she receives $1,500 a month from the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, but argued she still couldn’t afford to make ends meet or pay for her medications.
Her case referred to a section of the Family Relations Act that ensured “a child is liable to maintain and support a parent having regard to the other responsibilities and reasonable needs of the child.”
The section dated back to 1922, before the existence of pensions, and has only been used a dozen times since 1927.
The Family Relations Act was repealed by the B.C. government in November 2011 and replaced by the Family Law Act.
With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Mi-Jung Lee