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

Just Posted

Touring exhibit from Royal B.C. Museum highlights First Nations languages

Qualicum Beach Museum will be home to a variety of interactive stations

‘Dirty Money’ in Nanoose Bay: Dr. Peter German to speak at ElderCollege

‘This is an evolving study’: presenting up-to-date information on B.C. organized crime

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh to campaign in Port Alberni

Singh joins Courtenay-Alberni candidate for rally to kick off final weekend before election

Winter preparation underway for mid-Island highways

Drivers reminded to ready vehicles for changing conditions

Qualicum Beach council discusses helping out Orca Place residents

Town considers offer of temporary jobs in the future

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Talk to your kids about vaping, B.C.’s top doctor says

B.C. health officials have discovered the first vaping-related illness in the province

Alberta truck convoy plans counter-protest at climate rally with Greta Thunberg

United We Roll organizer says similar protest planned for Swedish teen’s event in Edmonton

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

British family deported after ‘accidental’ U.S. border crossing

U.S. officials deny it was mistake, release video of vehicle crossing into Washington from Langley

Kamloops man hangs on to back of stolen truck as suspect speeds away, crashes

The pickup truck was seen leaving the roadway before bursting into flames

‘Sky didn’t fall:’ Police, lawyers still adjusting after pot legalization

Statistics Canada says 541 people were charged under the federal Cannabis Act between Oct. 17, 2018 and the end of the year

Fewer people prescribed opioids in B.C., but other provinces lack data: doctors

Patients who began taking opioids were prescribed smaller doses for shorter duration

Electric cello, stolen from vehicle in Williams Lake, returned to U.S. owner

Rita Rice of Texas said she and her husband had given up hope of ever seeing it again

Most Read