Dad’s Poverty Claim Foiled by Instagram Pics
The father had been ordered to pay child support in 2009, but never did. Over the course of the following decade, the child support arrears had accumulated to the point where he owed the mother more than $145,000 in respect of their two children.
It was only in 2018 that the matter came back before the courts, when the father asked the court to rule that he had met the tests for reducing the arrears, and for eliminating the going-forward support obligations. By law, this included the court looking at whether there had been a change of circumstances that occurred since the original child support order was made.
The father claimed that he’d had to move out of province to look for work in 2010, and that his income had dropped significantly from the almost $73,000 on which his child support levels had been calculated. In fact, he said he’d earned just over $11,000 in that year, and ended up living on the streets and panhandling for money. He said he also became an alcoholic, and sobered up only in 2012 when he met his former fiancée. However, he claimed that he and the fiancée were no longer in a relationship.
The court relied on Instagram to both prove – and then disprove – various parts of the father’s story.
First, it accepted the claim that the father met his fiancée in 2012, because Instagram photos were filed with the court showing them together. But other Instagram photos proved to the court that the father was lying when he said the relationship had since ended, and that he was currently living alone in poverty in a basement apartment. The court said:
[The father] says that he is separated from [his fiancée], and that they are co-parenting their child, Nina, who lives with [the fiancée]. [The father] claims to live in relative poverty in a basement apartment costing him $400 per month. …
However, the Instagram photographs filed by [the mother] demonstrates a completely different lifestyle. They disclose a number of trips to Columbia, the most recent of which may have been as late as 2019, as well as trips to Portugal and to France. There are numerous smiling images of [the father and his fiancée] enjoying visits to exotic locations. There was a post from [the fiancée’s] mother which congratulates [the father] for acquiring a residence in Columbia. [The father] flew his daughter, Vanessa, to Columbia for a holiday in 2017. …
[The father] claims … to have paid these trips through points earned by buying gas for company vehicles which he drove when he was working. Outside of the fact that he needed about 300,000 points to go on the trips that [the mother] was able to find out about, that statement does not ring true. [The father] must be driving a lot to earn points to buy flights to Portugal for himself and his daughter, Nina (60,000 points). Yet he claims to effectively be working part-time because of his own health issues, which would mean that he would not be driving very much at all …
This evidence contradicted the father’s claims that he was earning $16 per hour and had an annual income of $17,000 per year; his stated income and lifestyle were simply at odds. The court surmised that it was more likely that he was being paid under-the-table by the fiancée, who owned her own business. When giving evidence they were both vague about the company he worked for and the details of his alleged employment.