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A Broken Child Support Contract:  Can it be Tantamount to a Human Rights Violation?

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A Broken Child Support Contract:  Can it be Tantamount to a Human Rights Violation?

This was a unique recent case that was heard  not by a Family Court, but by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

The husband went before the Tribunal with a rather novel argument.  He and his former spouse had entered into a child support contract together, but he was having difficulty enforcing the child support payments under it.   So as an alternative to going to court, he claimed this amounted to “discrimination” in connection with a contract, contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19 (the “Code”).

Unfortunately for the husband, the Tribunal was not on-side with his argument.  It advised the husband that it was planning to dismiss his discrimination-based application, because the respondent was his spouse or former spouse. As the Tribunal put it:

The Tribunal does not have a general power to inquire into all relationships and all difficulties that may occur in those relationships. The Tribunal’s jurisdiction is based on the Code, which prohibits discrimination in the social areas of “employment”, “goods, services and facilities”, “accommodation” (housing), “contracts” and “membership in vocational associations”.

Adding that the husband’s materials failed to point to any connection between this treatment and any social area covered by the Code, the Tribunal wrote:

The personal relationship between the applicant and his former spouse is not covered by the Code. I therefore find that it is plain and obvious that the Tribunal does not have the power to decide the allegations against her.

That “plain and obvious” threshold was the legal test for whether the Tribunal could dismiss the husband’s case, since it was clear on the face of the application that it did not fall within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.  The Tribunal accordingly dismissed his application outright.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Meldrum v. Brown

At Russell Alexander, Family Lawyers our focus is exclusively family law, offering pre-separation legal advice and assisting clients with family related issues including: custody and access, separation agreements, child and spousal support, division of family property, paternity disputes, and enforcement of court orders.  For more information, visit us at RussellAlexander.com