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Posts from the ‘Children’ Category

How Relevant to Custody Are Father’s Plans to Promote Kids’ Native Heritage?

mohawk

How Relevant to Custody Are Father’s Plans to Promote Kids’ Native Heritage?

In a case called Montour v. Montour, the parents had originally met in California and then moved to Ontario where they had two children together. When they separated several years later, custody of the children became a key issue: the mother wanted full-time custody and proposed to move back to California, where she wanted to have a “fresh start”; the father wanted them to stay in Ontario.

But the father’s custody plan had a further complicating element for the court to consider: He was a proud Mohawk Indian, and proposed that the children should live with him full-time on a Native Reserve. Under this plan – and aside from access visits with the mother (which he preferred would take place nearby) – the children’s exposure to non-Native culture would be limited: they would attend daycare and school where the Mohawk language was taught, and would be raised in a close community of Mohawk individuals. They would be entitled to all the health and education benefits on the Reserve.

In deciding on custody, the court considered all the circumstances. First of all, it ruled out joint custody as an option in light of the divergent plans of each parent, not to mention the large geographical distance separating them.

Next, the court assessed the impact and weight to be given to the father’s proposal to foster the children’s Native heritage. While acknowledging that it was an important consideration, it could not be the sole determining factor on the custody issue, the court found. On this aspect, the mother’s willingness to promote the father’s culture and heritage could be taken into account as well. (The father, incidentally, steadfastly refused to reciprocate in this regard).

In short, the father’s goal to promote the children’s heritage was only one of many features to be considered in his proposed overall plan. Among the others, for example, was the father’s current lack of employment, his receipt of social benefits through his Band office, and his plan to arrange daycare through friends, family and community resources. The court also faulted the father implicitly by pointing out that at no time during the marriage did he feel motivated to seek employment income (which was in contrast to his work ethic prior to the relationship).

The court therefore awarded custody to the mother, pointing out that she had been the primary caregiver and had a greater ability to nurture the children. She had remained at home to care for the children and was involved in their school-related and recreational activities. To give her full custody would more closely parallel the pre-separation arrangement they had previously had.
The mother was allowed to move with the children to California, with the father being allowed specified summertime and other access.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Montour v. Montour, 1994 CarswellOnt 2086 (Ont. Prov. Div.)

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 www.RussellAlexander.com

Obligations to Pay Child Support Even with Undue Hardship

 

Obligations to Pay Child Support Even with Undue Hardship

In this video we review a court decision from earlier this year, the court confirmed that a father was still obligated to pay support for his two children from a first marriage even though:

1) he no longer had a relationship with them;

2) he had a new family (and two other small children) to support; and

3) the child support obligation would cause him undue hardship, in light of his difficult financial circumstances.

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 www.RussellAlexander.com.

Parents Use Kids as “Pawns”; Court Appoints Them a Separate Lawyer

lawyer robes

Parents Use Kids as “Pawns”; Court Appoints Them a Separate Lawyer

When parents’ disputes over custody and access get particularly ugly, should the kids have their own lawyer appointed?

In an unusual case called Liske v. Liske, the court evidently thought so.

The parents’ separation had been acrimonious, and despite the lapse of seven years they were still in-and-out of court to resolve custody and access issues related to their two children, aged 14 and 12. According to the court, both parents clearly had “unresolved emotional issues” that made them “bitter”; even though they had both remarried they persisted in focusing on their own interests rather than those of the children. A home assessment report confirmed that the parents’ ongoing conflict was impacting the children negatively, and counselling had failed to help them resolve their differences.

Against this factual background, the legal issue was whether in these circumstances the court should appoint an independent counsel for the children, in order to give them separate representation.

The court reflected on the merits of this proposition. It observed that the appointment of a separate lawyer for the children was a matter within the court’s discretion, but was not something that should necessarily be done routinely each time. Indeed, the general rule was that children should not be separately represented, because it would place them in a position where they would have to choose between their parents, which was undesirable. Instead, in order to ascertain the views and best interests of the children, the court could take their evidence, and could receive the opinions of the appointed family counsellor by way of affidavit, all with a view towards allowing it to assess the children’s best interests without the necessity of separate representation.

With that said, the court recognized that in some less common cases it was desirable for the court to appoint separate lawyers for the children, in situations where they had separate interests and points of view from both of their parents.
This was precisely the case here. The loyalties of the children had been oscillating between the mother and the father, and there was evidence that they were being used as pawns “in a custody/access game played by their parents”. The best option for bringing the children’s own best interests to the forefront was to appoint them a separate lawyer. As the court explained:

The parties to this action have both abdicated a leadership role in determining what is best for their children in spite of able counsel and the assistance of the courts. In this situation, the focus of the court must shift from the parents’ view to what is best for the children. What is best for these children, given the long and bitter relationship of their natural parents, is to have their own lawyer who can put forth their individual positions and perhaps impress upon the parties to this action that their mutual conflict in the eyes of the court is only a secondary and minor concern.

The court continued:

…this is not a situation where the children are being asked to choose between their natural parents, but rather a situation where both parents, by their conduct have removed themselves from realistically representing what is best for their children. After seven years parents who were willing to put the best interest of their children first would have worked out an acceptable accommodation. This has not happened and will not happen until the children’s interest are given a dominant role in this litigation. This is best accomplished by the appointment of counsel.

Do you think this solution has broader benefits? Should children have their own legal representation as a matter of course?

For the full text of the decision, see:

Liske v. Liske, [1995] M.J. No. 362, 105 Man.R. (2d) 256

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 www.RussellAlexander.com

Kid Cuts Off Parent – Should Child Support Be Cut Off Too?

finger

Kid Cuts Off Parent – Should Child Support Be Cut Off Too?

I read an interesting case from the U.S. recently, that involved a 13-year old boy who wanted nothing to do with his father. Perhaps this was not surprising, since the mother – from whom the father was separated – had what the court called an “inappropriately hostile” attitude toward the man, and had shown a “pattern of alienation” in her dealings with him. This included numerous instances in which she actively interfered with his regular (and court-ordered) visitation schedule. As the court recounted, the mother had often said that she would “do whatever it takes” to block the father from exercising his right to visitation.

The result was that the teen was now “vehemently opposed” to visiting or having contact with his father, who had not seen the boy since 2010 and was not kept abreast of his school progress and medical status by the mother.

This raised several legal issues, including: 1) whether the boy should be nonetheless compelled to visit and interact with his father; and 2) whether the father should still be required to pay support for a child that wanted nothing to do with him.

The case was heard by a lower court judge, but the ruling was subsequent appealed. The New York appeal court confirmed that while the lower court had authority to find that the teen should not be compelled to visit his father, it was wrong under the circumstances to refuse to grant the father’s motion to suspend child support payments. (Among the factors considered by the court was the mother’s misconduct: Not only was she actively distancing the child from his father, but she also refused to give her consent to have information from mental health providers and school officials, in order to have a court-ordered assessment performed. She also did not bring the boy to a court-ordered interview as required).

Although this U.S. case is an interesting one, it doesn’t quite resonate with the state of the law in Ontario. As I related recently in another blog, even in cases where the parent-child relationship has been severed, the support-paying parent may still have an obligation to continue paying child support, depending on the circumstances.

As with many family law issues, there are certainly no hard-fast rules in either the Canada or the U.S., but these divergent cases on the support ramifications of parent-child estrangement raise a good question:
As a general rule, if the parent-child relationship is severed, should child support obligations be severed, too?

What are your thoughts?

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 www.RussellAlexander.com

When do the child support guidelines apply? video

 

Wednesday’s Video Clip: When do the child support guidelines apply?

In this video Darla discusses when the child support guidelines apply.

If parents go to court to get a child support order, in almost all cases the court must use the Guidelines to set the amount.

This is true whether the order is applied for under:

• the Divorce Act by parents who are divorcing

• the Family Law Act by parents who were never married, or who were married and have separated but are not getting a divorce

The Guidelines must also be applied whenever a parent applies to the court to change any support order, even if it was originally made before the Guidelines came into effect.

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 www.RussellAlexander.com.

Can a Parent Ask Court to Force Kid to Change Schools?

mentor

Can a Parent Ask Court to Force Kid to Change Schools?

If a child has been declared eligible to a school for “gifted” kids, does this mean that one parent can force his or her attendance there, by way of court order?

This was the issue in an Ontario case called Askalan v. Taleb, where the divorcing parents’ conflict centered on their disagreement around their son’s education. For much of his educational career, the boy had attended been attending a private school, for which the mother paid all of the tuition under the terms of the separation agreement she and the father reached. That agreement also stipulated that the parents would continue to jointly make important decisions about the child’s education, but that the mother could decide to pull the child out of private school if she could no longer afford it financially. In that case, the parents agreed to choose an alternate school together.

After the boy was assessed as being intellectually gifted, the mother wanted him transferred to a full-time gifted program at a different school. The father objected; among his concerns was the disruption to the child, and the 10 minutes in extra drive-time to get the boy to school from the father’s house.

Since they could not agree (and the divorce trial was still a long way down the road), the mother brought a motion asking for a temporary court order transferring the child to the other school.

The court started by dismissing outright the father’s accusation that the mother’s motive was strictly to save having to pay private school tuition. The separation agreement included a term allowing the mother to pull the boy out if money was an issue; the court also pointed out that the parents had collectively wasted the equivalent of three years’ tuition merely on arguing the motion before it. So the motive could not have been purely financial.

Next, given that the motion was heard in August, the court lamented its timing:

It is extremely unfortunate that the parents have not been able to come to an agreement as to what is in [their son’s] best interests with respect to schooling, as contemplated by the Separation Agreement. Although as I will come to, the cost of this litigation is troubling, even more concerning is the fact that the failure of the parties to resolve this issue has left [the son] in limbo as to where he will go to school this fall, since the spring of this year and this court with the challenge of making a decision that [the son’s] parents are best suited to make.

It is also unfortunate that this issue has been dealt with on the merits for the first time less than three weeks before the start of the new school year. …

In considering the merits of the mother’s motion, the court began by pointing out that the best interests of the child governed the determination of these kinds of matters – not the preferences or wishes of the parents nor any prior agreement between them. (And on that point, the court added that the couple’s separation agreement was not binding on the court, and did not have the same force as would a court Order.

In considering the unique facts against the best interest test, the court was allowed to consider many factors, including: where the boy was born and raised; how many years he had been attending the current school; and any problems he was having there. It could also look to any decisions that were made by the parents prior to the separation or at the time of separation with respect to schooling.

Here, the mother was clearly motivated to enroll the boy in the gifted program so that he could excel academically and meet his full potential. And while the court agreed this would meet his academic needs, this was not the only factor: the court also had to consider the potential disruption, as well as the possible impact on the boy’s personality, confidence and self-esteem. On that point, the court gave considerable weight to the fact that the boy himself wanted to stay at his current school. It also heard that he had sent a text to his father, complaining that there were “too many changes” in his life, and asking that his school and friends not change.

Ultimately, after concluding that the emotional/social disruption might outweigh any academic benefit, the court declined to order that the boy be switched. The mother had not met the onus of showing the boy’s best interests would be served by the transfer; there was insufficient evidence to address how his needs might be accommodated at the current school versus how he might benefit from the gifted program.
The court also ordered an independent assessment of the boy, with the focus being how his best interests might be served by attending the gifted program. The court also cautioned:

My decision however should not be viewed by the Father as a victory. I want to make it clear to [the boy’s] parents that in my view it is extremely unfortunate, that once [the boy] was identified as a gifted learner, and accepted into a gifted program, that the positions of the parties became polarized immediately. Whatever their motivations, there is no evidence of the parents attempting to work together to determine what in fact is in [the boy’s] best interests in light of this new and important information. … Unfortunately, although I have no doubt both parents love [the boy] very much, they clearly forgot that they must put their differences aside and focus only on his best interests. …

There is very little the court can do if the parties insist on dealing with this issue in a high conflict manner. A final decision will be made by the trial judge. I urge them however, to consider [the boy] and what is best for [the boy].

For the full text of the decision, see:

Askalan v. Taleb, 2012 ONSC 4746 (CanLII)

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 www.RussellAlexander.com

Breaching Access Orders: Is a Parent in Contempt if the Kid Won’t Cooperate?

upset

Breaching Access Orders: Is a Parent in Contempt if the Kid Won’t Cooperate?

If a court orders one parent to facilitate and encourage access to a child by the other parent, what happens if the child doesn’t want to participate? More specifically, how far does the parent have to go to “encourage” the child to cooperate, before being held in contempt of court themselves?

This was one of the issues in a recent Ontario case. The parents were married for about six years and had two children. One child lived principally with the father; the other stayed with the mother, who brought various unsuccessful motions to limit or terminate the father’s access to that child.

Then, responding to what the father felt was the mother’s attempt to actively thwart his weekend access rights over a six-month period, the father brought a motion asking the mother to be declared in contempt. Although that motion was dismissed, the court expressed serious concerns that the mother was trying to alienate the now-12-year old child from her father.

The father brought a second contempt motion after the mother failed to drop off the child at her paternal grandparents home one Friday, and on several subsequent Fridays. In her defence, the mother claimed that she had done her best to allow the father to have access, but the child herself had persistently refused to see him.

The motions judge found the mother was indeed in contempt, after concluding she had met the established legal test of being in “deliberate” and “willful” disobedience of a court order. The judge added that the mother had “effectively abdicated her parental authority on the issue of access” because she had not taken steps to ensure the daughter complied.

The mother appealed. She asked the court to consider whether, in light of the daughter’s own refusal to participate in seeing her father, the motions judge had erred in concluding that the mother had deliberately and willfully breached the access order.

The Ontario Court of Appeal did not think any error had been made by the previous judge on the contempt motion. It wrote:

Although a child’s wishes, particularly the wishes of a child of S.’s age, should certainly be considered by a court prior to making an access order, once the court has determined that access is in the child’s best interests a parent cannot leave the decision to comply with the access order up to the child. As stated by the motion judge, Ontario courts have held consistently that a parent “has some positive obligation to ensure a child who allegedly resists contact with the access parent complies with the access order” …

No doubt, it may be difficult to comply with an access order, especially as children get older. Parents are not required to do the impossible in order to avoid a contempt finding. They are, however, required to do all that they reasonably can. In this case, the motion judge inferred deliberate and wilful disobedience of the order from the appellant’s failure to do do all that she reasonably could: she failed to “take concrete measures to apply normal parental authority to have the child comply with the access order”.

As the motion judge noted, the appellant had been put on notice in prior proceedings that more than mere encouragement was required.

The Appeal Court also endorsed the following observations of the motion judge:

[W]hat does the mother do when this child doesn’t want to go to school or doesn’t want to go to the dentist? What are her mechanisms? Right? … Does this child have an allowance? Does she have a hockey tournament that maybe she’s not allowed to go to if she doesn’t go to see dad before? Are there things she could do to force her to go short of the police attending at her house and physically removing her?

Here, there was ample evidence – including emails between the parents — that the mother had essentially left it up to the daughter to decide whether she wanted to see her father. The Appeal Court concluded:

It is possible that nothing short of physical force could have brought S. to the access visits. However, this does not excuse the [mother] given the motion judge’s finding that she has not done all that she could to attempt to comply with the access order. The motion judge found that despite being on notice that attempts at stronger forms of persuasion may be required, the [mother] did not go beyond mere encouragement. In these circumstances, the motion judge properly concluded that deliberate and wilful disobedience was established beyond a reasonable doubt.

The mother’s appeal was dismissed; the finding of contempt against her was allowed to stand.

Godard v. Godard, 2015 ONCA 568 (CanLII)

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 www.RussellAlexander.com.

More On Whether a Kid Can Launch His or Her Own Child Support Claim Last year I wrote about a case

money in hand

More On Whether a Kid Can Launch His or Her Own Child Support Claim

Last year we wrote about a case in which a now-16-year-old girl had written to her paternal grandmother, asking her to help cover the $130,000 tuition cost of private school, plus another $50,000 in books. While the letter was no doubt a surprise to the grandmother, it was probably a thunderbolt to the girl’s biological father, since he had not seen or had anything to do with the girl since before she was born.

The girl had been conceived during a brief relationship; even before she was born the father and mother decided they no longer wanted to have anything to do with each other. With the assistance of lawyers at the time, the reluctant parents negotiated a written agreement under which the father paid the mother a one-time, lump-sum payment of $37,000 which was intended to cover off all his child support obligations, present and future. The contract also stipulated that he would have no contact with the girl whatsoever, which is precisely what happened. (The girl was subsequently raised by the mother alone; the father went on to get married and had three other children, all of whom were unaware of their half-sister’s existence).

After the letter to the grandmother got no response, the girl launched a child support application against her father, asking for financial support to cover private school and expenses. The girl’s mother did not participate in the court action at all.

More than a year later, the girl’s case is still wending its way through the courts, and has now raised an interesting technical point: whether, being a minor, the girl needs to be represented not by lawyers of her own choosing, but rather by a “Litigation Guardian” (which is a court-appointed representative from the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, who would have authority to decision in the lawsuit on the girl’s behalf because she is still a minor).

After reviewing various procedural Rules, an earlier motions judge declared that the appointment of a Litigation Guardian was a prerequisite for the girl to bring her child support claim against the father.

On later appeal – which was participated in by the Attorney General of Ontario, the Office of the Children’s Lawyer, and lawyers for other children’s interest groups – the court disagreed. Although a self-initiated support application by a minor was highly unusual, the court observed that the Family Law Rules authorized court appearances by a “special party” in some circumstances. Although the definition of “special party” did not quite encompass the girl’s situation or the facts at hand, where there were evident gaps the legislation allowed a court to obtain guidance by analogy to other rules where appropriate.

Nothing in the Rules mandated that a Litigation Guardian must be appointed for the girl; they only provided certain rules and requirements in the more routine scenario in which one is duly appointed and involved in a minor’s court case. Moreover, the Rules did not preclude a court from finding that the girl’s own chosen lawyers were sufficient and appropriate representatives for her; in fact, on a proper interpretation, the girl was even entitled to act on her own (i.e. without lawyers) if she wished.

The court overturned the motion judge’s earlier ruling requiring the girl to have a Litigation Guardian, and went further by formally affirming that the steps that had been previously taken to-date, as part of her application for child support, were to be considered properly taken even though she technically had no Litigation Guardian at the time.

It’s an interesting case for lots of reasons, not the least of which is the substantive legal question of whether the girl can bring a child support claim in her own right – with or without lawyers involved. No doubt that issue will finally be decided in the near future and I will report on the outcome then.

For the full text of the decision, see:

C.M.M. v D.G.C., 2015 ONSC 2447 (CanLII)

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 www.RussellAlexander.com.

Court Rebukes Father Bent on Cutting Off Daughter’s Support

Close-up of assorted Canadian paper currency

Close-up of assorted Canadian paper currency

Court Rebukes Father Bent on Cutting Off Daughter’s Support

By definition, the role of family law judges is to be fair, impartial and unbiased. But it’s safe to speculate that they routinely see a good deal of needless legal wrangling from litigants. Faced with the fruitless and unnecessary protraction of proceedings – often spurred by one party’s intractable desire to “make a point” or “get even” – sometimes judges will express their exasperation.

This judicial frustration was evident throughout the decision in VanSickle (Elms) v. VanSickle, where the judge set the stage with the following opening words:

This is a family tragedy. The [father’s] relationship with his two children, … is now irreparably shattered. The parties have spent money they could ill afford on four days of trial wherein the [husband] has done his utmost to convince the court that his daughter, a university student, is no longer a dependent and not entitled to any support from him. ….

The parents had divorced in 1996 after 10 years of marriage. By court order in 2000, to which both father and mother agreed, the father’s access to the two children was terminated and he was ordered to pay support of about $585 per month, which the father dutifully paid.

The court order terminated the father’s access to the children, but he was claiming that they had severed ties with him, and that as a result he should no longer be obligated to pay child support for them. Since that order, he had made no effort to contact them, either in person, by telephone, e-mail, letters or cards. One of the children, a son aged 23, was financially independent and no longer needed support.

However, the other child, a daughter also in her 20s, had tried to get in touch with the father in 2007, in the hope that he would help with her university costs. He did provide $600 for the first semester but declined to help beyond that, expressing his disappointment that she had not maintained more contact with him. The daughter then dropped out of university and moved back with her mother, who had also been diagnosed with breast cancer around that time.

The father remarried in 2003 and his business – of which he was the sole officer, director, and shareholder — continued to do well (for example, in 2011 he took $70,000 in salary, paid his new wife $45,000, but then kept almost $240,000 in the business by way of retained earnings for that same year). Yet in 2007 – prompted by the daughter’s email request for help with university costs – he instructed his lawyer to contact the mother to ask her consent to have his child support obligations for both children terminated. With respect to the daughter in particular, he claimed that she was at school for most of the year but lived with her boyfriend for the rest of the time, and therefore was no longer in her mother’s charge. Also, he later asked for a repayment of half the child support he had already paid for a certain period up to and beyond 2007. The mother responded by asking for a retroactive adjustment for s. 7 expenses and for his contribution to the children’s post-secondary expenses.

The question for the judge was whether the adult daughter was still a “child of the marriage” in these circumstances, to the point that the father should still support her despite his unwillingness to do so and despite the cessation of a father-daughter relationship between them. (The Divorce Act defines a “child of the marriage” as an offspring who has “not withdrawn from [the] charge” of the parents; moreover the jurisprudence suggests that an adult child regularly attending post-secondary education is not legally considered to have “withdrawn” from the parents’ charge).

The judge found that the daughter was indeed still a “child of the marriage”, and ordered the father to pay retroactive support for 2007 onward. Despite her having to take educational breaks for various valid reasons, once the daughter returned to university in September of 2009, she resumed that status for the purposes of child support entitlement. Applying the established factors in situations involving an adult child in post-secondary education, her education plan was reasonable; moreover she had shown financial self-sufficiency and a determination to finish her program.

In ordering the father to pay, the judge rebuked him for failing to co-operate and for dragging out the proceedings:

With respect to Mr. VanSickle’s conduct, I have no difficulty in finding that he has engaged in blameworthy conduct. He had a positive obligation by court order to disclose not only his income, but the income of his corporation and he did absolutely nothing. Even in the face of demands, he did not properly comply with the disclosure requirements. He knew that his income was higher and yet did nothing to ensure that his children shared in that increase in income.

With respect to the children’s past and present circumstances, this is a situation where an increased amount of support would have had a positive impact on the lives of the children. I accept the evidence of the applicant and the children regarding their lifestyle, the difficulties they had with housing and the financial struggles of the family. If Mr. VanSickle had assisted Jillian with her university expenses in January 2008, she may very well have completed her degree at McMaster. One will never know.

With respect to the non-existence relationship between her and the father, the judge added:

By the time of trial, it was clear that neither [the son or the daughter] is interested in a relationship with their father. At the same time, Mr. VanSickle’s conduct is such that it is not surprising to the court that this is the case. This is not a situation where [the daughter] has unilaterally and without justification terminated her relationship with her father.

First, Mr. VanSickle chose not to see his children. He could have had supervised access to them when he and [the mother] first separated and he chose not to do so. He consented to an order in 2000 which terminated all access to his children. He did nothing to reach out to these children after the date of that order. It was Jillian who made the first overtures towards her father in 2007 when she was seeking financial assistance from him. While it is true that Mr. VanSickle responded to that request and attempted to reinstate his relationship with the children, his efforts, in my view, were minimal at best. …

In the end, and concluding that the husband’s true income would have to be scrutinized and determined (after taking into account retained earnings, income splitting with his new wife, and the validity of certain expenses that were actually deducted for his personal use), the judge held that the daughter was to bear one-third of her own university costs, and that the remainder was to be shared by the parents in proportion to their respective incomes.

For the full text of the decision, see:

VanSickle (Elms) v. VanSickle, 2012 ONSC 7340

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 www.RussellAlexander.com

When Can A Parent Apply For Child Support‬ – video

Wednesday’s Video Clip: When Can A Parent Apply For Child Support‬

In this video we examine how parents who have their children living with them after separation can apply for child support at any time. Usually they apply right after they separate or as part of their divorce application. They often apply for custody and child support at the same time. It is usually best to deal with these matters as early as possible.

Sometimes parents with custody do not want or need child support at first, but later their situation changes. They can apply for child support when the need occurs, even after a divorce and all other matters arising from the separation have been settled.

But if a step-parent is asked to pay support, the more time that has passed since the step-parent had an ongoing relationship with the child, the less likely it is that the court will order support payments. This is especially true if the step-parent’s social and emotional relationship with the child has ended.

A parent can apply for custody and support even while living separately under the same roof after their relationship with the other parent is over. But usually the court will not make any order for custody and support until one parent has actually moved out.

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 www.RussellAlexander.com.