VANCOUVER – A B.C. Supreme Court justice says three adults who were left to fend for themselves as teenagers decades ago do not have to pay support to their estranged mother.
Justice Bruce Butler ruled in a decision posted online Thursday that while Shirley Marie Anderson is financially dependent, her children, Donna Dobko, 53, Keith Anderson, 51, and Kenneth Anderson, 48, do not have the money to support her.
And even if they did, Butler said he’d make no such order favouring the 74-year-old mother.
“The childhood experiences of Donna and Kenneth and the lengthy estrangement which resulted from the claimant’s failure to parent the children in any meaningful way are sufficient to relieve the court from considering any moral claim by the claimant to a lifestyle similar to that of her children,” wrote Butler.
The mother launched the lawsuit against the children in July 2000 and continued the action in 2008.
Butler said while he can’t conclude the claimant “abandoned the children,” he could conclude she failed to nurture or support them, and was “ready and willing to leave them to the care of others when it suited her purposes.”
The estrangement, he added, was her fault, and the mother made no attempt to build relationships with her children.
The mother also has the means to pay for a car, television, Internet and cellphone through her old-age security and other benefits, he said.
Butler not only dismissed the case, he ordered the mother to pay the court costs of her children.
According to court documents, the mother split up the family after her husband was involved in a serious truck accident and she found it difficult to raise her young children.
Keith Anderson lived with his parents until they moved away and left him behind when he was in Grade 10, said Butler.
He said Keith Anderson received no help from his parents and supported himself with after-school jobs.
Kenneth Anderson, he said, was left behind by his parents when he was just 15 and had to leave high school so he could support himself, added Butler.
Meantime, Dobko moved away from her mother’s residence when she was 17 years old and then supported herself because she had no financial assistance from her parents.
Butler said the mother has admitted to not treating her children well but has also argued she did not abuse them.
Two other adult children were initially named in the lawsuit, but one of them died 2010 and the other has reconnected with his mother after a welding accident in prison left him legally blind.