Tuesday, November 03, 2015

In Re Marriage of Cecilia W. (Cal. Ct. App. - Nov. 3, 2015)

California law requires each parent (even if they're divorced) to support an adult child if they're disabled and unable to support themselves as a result.

"Robert suffers from Tourette's syndrome and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Tourette's symptoms include affected motor skills, tics, and accompanying issues, including learning disabilities and emotional management issues. Robert exhibits all of these symptoms when stressed.

So Robert may potentially be disabled.  If, as a result, he's unable to support himself, both Father and Mother have a duty to help him; e.g., to provide child support to the other parent.

The trial court holds that Robert's indeed in this situation.  In some circumstances, that may well make sense.

But let me add some quick additional facts about Robert:

"Robert graduated from high school on time. He then attended Southwestern College, a community college. There, Robert earned two associates degrees and achieved a 3.3 grade point average, but took five years to graduate due to class withdrawals. Robert also needed accommodations, including intervention by Disabled Student Services, less distracting test settings, extra time for tasks, and tutors (including private math tutoring). In addition, he was admitted to urgent care and the emergency room twice during one semester because panic attacks caused tachycardia on one occasion and cardiac arrest on the other.

Since August 2012, Robert has been enrolled at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).  He has had similar accommodations, including Disabled Student Services intervention, quiet test facilities, and flexibility for test completion time, as well as use of a laptop and tape recorder in class. He also has had a private Spanish tutor. Robert generally has earned B-range grades at UCSD."

The Court of Appeal reverses the trial court's decision because the trial court applied the wrong legal standards, and remands to the trial court to try again.

I'll add only one thing to Justice Huffman's opinion.  If Robert is indeed disabled, and unable to support himself under California law (e.g., unable to make a living), that result won't say much about either UCSD or Southwestern College.  At which Robert has earned a B+ and B- grade point average, respectively.

If you're able to graduate from college -- and fairly good ones, at that -- and are still unable to support yourself, that says something.