The Family Court has rejected a 41-year-old solicitor’s plea for continued financial support from his parents - and ordered him to pay their costs from his failed application.
The claimant in FS v RS and JS submitted he was a vulnerable adult who, without the court’s protective help, was immediately at risk of harm after his wealthy parents had ‘nurtured his dependency’ on them for the past 20 years. The court heard that his parents had financially supported him down the years and allowed him to live in their central London flat, but their relationship had recently deteriorated and the support they are prepared to offer significantly reduced.
In judgment published today, the retired former head of the Family Division, Sir James Munby, described it as a ‘most unusual’ case. The initial reaction of most experienced family lawyers ‘would be a robust disbelief that there is even arguable substance to any of it’.
Munby said that the court did not have jurisdiction to give the applicant the relief he sought, and rejected submissions that the parents had breached their son’s human rights.
He said provisions in the law for parents to fund their child into adulthood were not applicable here, adding that ‘conventional wisdom and practice would suggest that these provisions were never intended to be used and cannot be used to fund the education of a perpetual student’.
Writing in a postscript following attempts to revisit the arguments, the judge added: ‘I had already, despite the additional burden of costs this threw on to the respondents, been prepared to indulge the applicant, not once but twice, after the argument had been concluded. His further attempts to expand and reopen the argument are an abuse of process. Enough is enough. There must be an end to this.’
The court heard that the claimant was a modern history graduate, qualified solicitor, has a masters in taxation and is now studying for his chartered tax advisory and law school admission test exams. His various difficulties and mental health disabilities, he submitted, constituted ‘special circumstances’ that could require ongoing financial support from his parents. He invited the court to say that it had both the jurisdiction and the duty to protect him rather than abandon him to the ‘capricious decisions’ of his parents.
Even when Munby’s ruling was circulated, Munby was ‘staggered’ to receive an email raising a new point, with no explanation why this had not been mentioned earlier.
The claimant was ordered to pay his parents’ £57,425 costs. His applications for permission to appeal and a stay of execution were dismissed.
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