Court overturns lifetime of retroactive child support owed by absent Duncan dad

Court overturns lifetime of retroactive child support owed by absent Duncan dad

Appeal reduces payments to three years in Vancouver Island case, circumstances ruled not appropriate to precedent-setting award

You aren’t responsible for a lifetime of child support payments if you didn’t take active steps to avoid those payments, the B.C. Court of Appeal has ruled.

The appeal court has upheld a lower court decision that a Duncan man will not have to pay $70,320 in retroactive child support for the care of his now 20-year-old daughter — the amount the original trial judge calculated as what would have been payable between 1995 and 2013 under child support guidelines.

Instead, in a ruling released June 15 in Victoria, the court confirmed an order that the man pay the equivalent of monthly support payments of $497 retroactive to October 2013, as well as college education expenses of $7,109.

The child was born in 1995 after a relationship of less than a year was ended by the father when he discovered the mother was pregnant.

In what the court called an “unusual” twist, the mother did not request support, nor have any contact with the father, despite the fact she knew where he lived and worked. She finally approached the father for support at her daughter’s urging when the daughter was 18. The father agreed to provide it, but a dispute over payment ended in court.

In the initial trial, the mother claimed the father’s decision to leave devastated and humiliated her, making her emotionally incapable of pursuing support.

The trial judge agreed that was a reasonable excuse for her inaction and found the father’s conduct “at the high end of blameworthiness” for completely ignoring his daughter prior to being approached.

The judge ordered retroactive support payments, dating back to the girl’s birth, adding any financial hardship the order may cause the father was justified by the fact he had brought the situation upon himself.

In July of 2015, a B.C. Supreme Court justice overturned that decision on appeal on the grounds the original order gave too much weight to the mother’s reasons for not pursuing support earlier, failed to recognize the hardship it would cause the father, and was inconsistent with an existing guideline for retroactive pay of three years.

The court also found that no consideration had been given to the mother’s responsibility for providing for her daughter by pursuing child support earlier.

The Court of Appeal unanimously agreed with the Supreme Court finding.

Justice Mary Newbury found the initial ruling that the father doing nothing for 18 years amounted to high-end blameworthiness was a misapprehension of relevant law.

“Active deception, hiding from the payee parent, creating false records of income – these are all far worse than (the father’s) conduct,” Newbury wrote.

She also found no record of a case — even ones of more egregious misconduct — that sanctioned an award going back further than seven years.

“An award retroactive to a child’s birthdate might conceivably be appropriate where the payor’s conduct is at the high end of moral blameworthiness and where the child is considerably younger, but this was not such a case.”

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMcKinleyBP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria, with winds expected to get up to 70 km/h Friday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Wind warning promises blustery Friday for Greater Victoria

Winds up to 70 km/h expected Friday morning

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 from Vancouver to Victoria Feb. 28 were exposed to a case of COVID-19. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
COVID-19 exposure found on flight from Vancouver to Victoria

Passengers in rows 13 to 19 on Air Canada Jazz flight 8069 Feb. 28 affected

Crews deal with a rock slide on the Malahat section of Highway 1 in 2017. (Black Press Media file photo)
Rock work closes Highway 1 in Langford for spurts

Friday closures could delay drivers up to 20 minutes

Low interest rates have acted as a catalyst for the pandemic real estate market. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy)
Real estate sales surging across Greater Victoria but risks lie ahead

Single family home prices jump nine per cent over past year while condo values remain stable

Protestors against old growth logging gather in front of the courthouse in Victoria on Thursday morning. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Fairy Creek protesters gather at Victoria courthouse

Logging company seeks injunction to remove blockades near its Port Renfrew operation

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

The intersection of Melrose Street and Third Avenue. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Suspect in custody after two pedestrians struck in Port Alberni hit and run

RCMP asking for video footage, credit witnesses for quick arrest

(National Emergency Management Agency)
No tsunami risk to B.C. from powerful New Zealand earthquake: officials

An 8.1 magnitude earthquake shook the north of New Zealand Thursday morning

Comox Valley RCMP had access to 20 Street blocked off between Cousins and Choquette avenues as they conducted a raid of a house on the block. Photo by Terry Farrell
Comox Valley RCMP raid Courtenay problem house, several arrests made

Comox Valley RCMP conducted a raid of a problem house on 20th… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)
Pandemic stress, isolation key factors as to why Canadians turned to cannabis, alcohol

Study found that isolation played key role in Canadians’ substance use

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

Most Read