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Posts from the ‘Children’ Category

When Can (or Should) a Court Force Parents to Go to Reunification Therapy?

When Can (or Should) a Court Force Parents to Go to Reunification Therapy?

Reunification therapy is court-ordered counselling, conducted by a court-designated therapist, designed to help bridge the rift between a parent and a child after a divorce or separation.  It can be part of a determination as to custody and access, or may come up as part of a review once these orders have already been made. Reunification therapy can be ordered at a motion or at a trial.

Two recent Ontario cases provide guidance on when these kinds of orders are appropriate.

In Testani v. Haughton, the court considered whether to order reunification counselling for the daughter of two parents who had significant conflict in the post-separation period.  At separation, they had been married about 12 years and had two children together, including a 13-year-old daughter who the father claimed was actively being alienated from him by the mother.  The father had had no access to the daughter for several years, and she wholly refused to see him.

The child had attended counselling as directed by the court, and it resulted in the therapist’s recommendation that – while the daughter loved her father and was looking forward to future access with him – she should not be forced to see him at this point, since it would damage the prospect of any future relationship.  It was also recommended that she should receive individual counselling, as well as joint reunification with the father, to ease his transition back into her life.

The mother claimed she was on-board with these recommendations, but also did not want to force the daughter if she was currently unwilling to see him.

In examining this scenario in the context of resolving the parents’ issues, the court stipulated some of the criteria it must consider, in deciding whether to make an order for reunification therapy in the first place.

First, the court reflected on whether it even had the jurisdiction to make this kind of order at all, and after reviewing the prior cases, concluded it did.  Then it summarized the governing principles to be applied, as follows:

  • Orders for reunification therapy are to be made sparingly.
  • There must be “compelling evidence” that the therapy will be beneficial.
  • The request to the court must be adequately supported by a detailed proposal, identifying: a) the proposed counsellor; and b) what is expected.
  • A parent’s or a child’s resistance to therapy is an important factor in deciding whether to make the order, but it is not a determining one.
  • Where practical, the court should give appropriate direction to the counsellor or therapist, and should receive a report after the therapy is concluded.
  • If a clinical investigation or assessment is already underway, the order should wait until those steps have been concluded.

On the point of a parent’s resistance to participating in therapy, a second recent case called Leelaratna v. Leelaratna stresses that a court must look beyond a parent’s stated refusal to co-operate, and assess how likely the parent would be to actually go.  The court said:

There may be various reasons for a parent’s resistance to therapeutic intervention; the parent may not be satisfied that the cause of the breakdown in the child-parent relationship has been properly identified; the parent may feel that therapy is premature and that other steps must first be completed; the parent may lack the financial resources to retain the recommended therapist, and/or; the parent may not wish to have to physically force a resistant child to attend counselling.  The court should assess the likelihood that a parent will comply with a therapeutic order once it is made, despite that parent’s professed refusal to engage. 

For the full text of the decisions, see:

Testani v Haughton, 2016 

Leelaratna v. Leelaratna, 2018

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

 

 

Court Decides it Can Order “Reunification Therapy” To Repair Fractured Parent-Child Relationship

Court Decides it Can Order “Reunification Therapy” To Repair Fractured Parent-Child Relationship

The parents had a child together who was now 12 years old.  When the husband returned from a two-week trip out of the country to deal with some urgent matters, he found that the mother hand moved out of the matrimonial home. The next day, he received a letter from the mother’s lawyer, saying she was formally separating from him.  Aside from a few visits within the next few days, the father was told that the child did not want to see him.  He launched legal proceedings immediately, to get a court order allowing him some access and shared parenting time.

Unfortunately, the twice-weekly access visits between the father and son did not go well, and the child showed strong resistance to participating in them. As the court explained:

I found, based on the evidence before me, that it was undisputable that [the child] experienced significant stress and anxiety around his visits with his father.  However, the cause of that fear and anxiety was quite unclear.   The mother blamed that fear on the father’s own behavior and actions, whereas the father was of the view that the mother was the cause of that fear as a result of her alienating behaviours and lack of support for the father-son relationship.  The contradictory and untested evidence did not allow me to come to any clear conclusions in that regard.

What was clear to the court, however, was that imposing more access with the father in these circumstances would likely lead to a further deterioration of the relationship with the child.  This was echoed by a  registered psychologist, who had been hired to perform a full parenting assessment.  The psychologist noted there was “something terribly amiss here”, and it led to extraordinary distress and conflict.  He recommended that separate therapy for the father and for the mother, as well as private counselling sessions for the child.  He also recommended joint counselling sessions for the child and his father, to try to build a functional and healthy relationship, and concluded that progress could not be made unless the court imposed participation and progress requirements on the parents.

In alignment with these recommendations, the court added:

It is crystal clear to me, based on the evidence before me, that without an integrated professional therapeutic intervention with this family, any hope to rebuild a positive relationship between [the child] and his father will be lost forever.  There is simply no legal solution for this family, unless it is grounded upon, and supported by, therapeutic assistance.  If this court does not have the ability to impose on the parties and their child the therapeutic order that is necessary to achieve the long-term changes in behaviours which are essential to rebuild [the child’s] relationship with his father, this court will have no power to assist this family or this child.  This conclusion is rooted in my finding that, without a sustainable change in behaviour, access between [the child] and his father, in its current form, is detrimental to his mental health and overall well-being, and not in his best interests.

However, this raised an important legal question:  Whether the court had the jurisdiction to make a therapeutic order requiring the parents or the child to engage in these various types of counselling, including “reunification therapy”.

After noting that the significant controversy arising from Ontario court rulings on this point, the court concluded that it did have the needed powers under the provisions of the Children’s Law Reform Act and under the Divorce Act, in accord with the “best interests of the child.”  The court was already imbued with broad powers allowing it to address a child’s best interests when the parents could not agree; these could comfortably include making therapeutic orders where warranted.   Also, even though they are not expressly provided-for in the legislation, courts routinely make a wide variety of orders in the course of adjudicating on custody and access matters (including requiring a parent to complete a parenting course; deciding in which school or in which activities a child will be registered; determining whether a child will be allowed to travel to a specific country; and deciding whether a child will be raised in a particular faith or educated in a particular language).

Having concluded it had the legal authority to make the order, the court considered all the established factors that are relevant to its exercise of discretion in this particular case, including the child’s own willingness to participate. It added while access to the father was not currently in the child’s best interests, there was still hope that the relationship could be repaired “if everyone meaningfully engages in the therapeutic work necessary to achieve that goal.”

In the end, the court ordered the father, mother and child to each engage in the therapy and counselling recommended by the psychologist, before access to the father could resume.  The court also asked the psychologist to undertake an update assessment in six months’ time.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Leelaratna v. Leelaratna, 2018 

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

Mom Unilaterally Pays for Kids’ Special Expenses for School – Years Later, Should Dad Be Expected to Contribute?

Mom Unilaterally Pays for Kids’ Special Expenses for School – Years Later, Should Dad Be Expected to Contribute?

At the time of their separation and divorce 20 years ago, the court had made an order requiring the father to pay child support to the mother, to help cover the expenses of their two children, who were now both in their early 20s.

Some of these expenses related to their son’s attendance at a U.S. university until mid-2018, and to their daughter’s briefer stint at a local college for about a year.  The father faithfully paid the required child support over the years.

The mother now applied to the court to have that decades-old prior order changed retroactively, to add a new requirement that the father share in paying for the “special expenses” (as prescribed in section 7 of the Child Support Guidelines) relating to both children.  She asked that the father be obliged to pay for a period starting in at least the year 2000.

It seems that over the years, the mother had been unilaterally paying what she said were significant special expenses for the children’s in relation to their schooling, especially in the past few years when the children were pursuing post-secondary education.  However, she was either remiss or reluctant to ask the father for his contribution.  As the court explained:

The [mother]  claims that on June 12, 2014, she emailed the [father] alerting him to the fact that the children would both be attending university, and impliedly requested the [father] to contribute.  The [father] insists that he did not receive the email, and points out that he had changed his email address approximately a year before the email was sent. 

In explaining why it took her a further four years after that e-mail to go to court to try to have the father’s obligations enforced, the mother said she was afraid of the father, because he had been abusive towards her during the marriage and after separation.

In response, the father pointed out that:

1) There was nothing in the original order requiring him to contribute to section 7 expenses;

2) He was never consulted in any way as to the expenses the mother was incurring;

3) He never had an opportunity to provide input on what activities should be contributed to;

4) He already spent about $80,000 on extracurricular activities for the children over the years, himself, which would already fall in the category of the section 7 expenses being claimed.

After assessing the evidence on the whole, the court rejected the mother’s retroactive request for the section 7 special expenses, writing:

There are several difficulties with the [mother’s] claim for a contribution to section 7 expenses. 

First, apart from some general emails there was no formal request for a contribution to specific special expenses.  Ordinarily, parties would discuss which specific activities or other matters would legitimately constitute a special expense, to which both parties should contribute, and court action, in the event of disagreement, could sort out the matter at the time.  That did not happen.

Furthermore, at this point it would be difficult to determine, with any accuracy, exactly what contributions either party has made to what could legitimately be considered to be special expenses.  Both parties have attempted to do so, but I am not convinced that their calculations are particularly accurate. 

The court observed that at this late stage it would be “difficult, if not impossible” to impose a reasonable cost-sharing agreement after-the-fact.  It also noted the parents had essentially been informally sharing the children’s extra educational costs over the years, without a formal court order being in place.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Lochhead v. Lochhead, 2019

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

Despite Canadian Order, Court in India Refuses to Allow Child’s Return

Despite Canadian Order, Court in India Refuses to Allow Child’s Return

Given the impressive multiculturalism of modern-day Canada, it is not uncommon for parents to have originated from different nations before settling down to raise their children here.  But when those same parents later find themselves on the brink of separation or divorce, they may choose to return to their country-of-origin (often to rejoin extended family), and ideally take their children with them.

This can give rise to disputes involving numerous international law issues, including: whether a parent actually has the legal right to do so; which country’s laws and judicial system should govern the matter; where a trial or hearing should be held; and how or whether Family Law orders validly issued in one country can be enforced in a different one.

This last issue was the illuminated in a recent ruling from a court in India.  The decision shows that – as with the courts of all countries — the judgments of Canadian courts are not always respected and enforced, especially when they happen to relate to children.

The ruling emanated from the northern Indian state of Rajasthan, which borders on Pakistan.  Despite the existence of an order by a Canadian court requiring a 10-year-old boy to be returned from there to rejoin his father in Canada, the presiding Indian court concluded that the boy should not be allowed to go.

The boy’s parents, who had lived together in Ontario while married, were now embroiled in a custody dispute over him, post-separation.  The mother took matters into her own hands, and unilaterally decided to move the boy back to India with her, against the father’s wishes. This prompted the father to successfully obtain an order from Family Court judge in Hamilton, Ontario, granting him sole custody of his son, and directing his return.  That order also directed all law enforcement agencies – including INTERPOL – to take enforcement steps as necessary.

The matter then came before the court in India, where the father merely sought to have the pre-existing Ontario court order enforced.

However, the Indian court refused to do so, stating:

“If now he is forced to go back to Canada in the sole care of his father, is likely to psychologically disturb him, particularly when he will be required to now adapt to an education system of that country. This would adversely affect his over all growth and grooming as in the absence of his mother, his father being a busy professional, he is not likely to remain under the care of a Nanny.”

The Indian court was untroubled by the existence of the prior Canadian order stating otherwise; it concluded that it still had the authority to decline the boy’s return in light of what it adjudged to be his best interests.  That remained the prevailing and paramount consideration.

Indeed, the Indian court observed that the existence of the Canadian court order was “only one of the factors” and that it should not get “fixated” with it.   Rather, in these kinds of cases the India court had other factors to consider, too: – such as how settled the child had become in the new country, whether he or she would be exposed to physical or psychological harm, and whether the child’s own views could be ascertained in light of his or her age and maturity.

Applying those tests, the Indian court was satisfied that the child’s removal back to Canada to rejoin his father was not in his best interests in this case, since he had already been living in India for several years, and suffered from some health concerns.  (Still, the court did acknowledge the father’s access rights, by issuing directions specifically mandating that he still be allowed to maintain contact with his son.)

The court added that the boy should be allowed to stay in India until he reached the age of majority, at which time he would be entitled to choose between pursuing citizenship from that country, or else obtain citizenship rights in North America.

See the full text of the Indian court’s judgment, here.

 

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

 

Can Scam Immigration Marriage Be Annulled?

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Can Scam Immigration Marriage Be Annulled?

In this Blog we often focus on divorce, and its fall-out.   A topic that doesn’t come up often, is the effect of immigration fraud on the validity of a marriage.

This unusual issue was the focus in an Ontario case called Grewal v. Kaur, where on a motion for summary judgment the court was faced with the following question in its own words:

“Can immigration fraud, where one spouse has married the other for the sole purpose of acquiring citizenship status in Canada, unbeknownst to the other sponsoring spouse who thought they were entering into a genuine marriage and who was deceived as to the other spouse’s motivation for entering into the marriage, form the legal basis for the granting of an annulment of a marriage, if such can be proven at trial?”

In this case, the husband had been tricked into marriage by the putative wife. His lawyer argued that if for none other than public policy grounds, immigration fraud should be a ground for annulment to discourage anyone from “jumping the queue” in the Canadian immigration system.  It would also deprive the fraudster from being eligible for certain marriage-based remedies under Ontario family law.

The court rejected these policy-based arguments. It held that that changing the law around marriage and annulment would not impact the flow of the immigration system in the least, since the laws governing that regime already define “spouse” to exclude immigration fraudsters.   As for the impact on family law entitlement, the court noted that it is “difficult as a practical matter to conceive that family law remedies would be awarded to a proven immigration fraudster.”

The court also dismissed the added argument that cultural sensitivities might dictate expanding the law in this area, stating:

Certain individuals may be motivated by the belief that for cultural and/or personal reasons an annulment is preferable to a divorce.   While these beliefs may be sincerely held, I see no good reason to recognize a legal right to an annulment. The courts are already having difficulty dealing with the existing volume of pressing criminal, family and civil matters.  I see no public interest in adding to the caseload if the principal motivation relates to saving face or conceptions of personal or family honour.

More to the point, the court concluded that it was bound by several existing Ontario Court of Appeal decisions holding that immigration fraud cannot be relied on to grant an annulment, even where – as here – one spouse had tricked the other into marriage for the sole purpose of acquiring citizenship status in Canada.  If the prevailing caselaw on this point was ripe for being overturned based on public policy and related arguments, then this was a task that only the Court of Appeal itself could do.

In short, the court concluded that the grounds for granting an annulment have already been firmly set by legislation; there was no reason to try to expand them to include immigration fraud even where it involved deception of one spouse by the other.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Grewal v. Kaur, 2009 

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

 

 

Does Employer Discriminate Against Woman Who Lacked Child-Care?

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Does Employer Discriminate Against Woman Who Lacked Child-Care?

“Family status” is one of the prohibited grounds of workplace discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code.  It is defined as “the status of being in a parent and child relationship.”

The scope of an employer’s duty to accommodate an employee’s “family status” was the focus of a recent case called Peternel v. Custom Granite & Marble Ltd. where the court heard a human rights complaint by a woman who was returning to her job from having taken maternity leave.  She claimed the employer had discriminated against her by requiring her to report to work each day at 8:30 a.m., even though she had no morning child-care for two of her three children.  She claimed this was tantamount to a failure to accommodate her “family status” under human rights legislation, and asked for six months’ pay and $20,000 in punitive damages.

The woman had started to work for the small company – which made and installed granite counters — in 2010, taking on the role of scheduler.  And important part of her job was to respond to early-morning calls and attend morning meetings, and the woman acknowledged that an 8:30 a.m. start-time was one of the stipulations in her job description.  Still, during the years leading up to the birth of the woman’s third child, the employer had accommodated her child-related needs to some extent, for example by giving her a cellphone that allowed her to make work early-morning work-related calls from her home.

But in 2015, while the woman was still on maternity leave, the employer advised that upon her return she would be required to consistently report to work at 8:30 a.m., due to changes in the workplace. The employer gave her time to try to find child-care, but she was unable to do so in advance of her return date.

The employer did offer her an alternative job, at comparable pay, that would allow her to start work mid-morning, rather than at 8:30.   However, the woman did not even respond to that offer; instead she chose not to return to work when her maternity leave came to an end.

In light of these facts, and after pointing out some issues with the woman’s credibility, the court dismissed her discrimination claim.   The court concluded that she had essentially frustrated the employer’s efforts to accommodate her.

First, the court noted contradictions in the woman’s dealings with the employer, and some discrepancies in her evidence to the court.  For example, she had told the employer that she could not come into work by 8:30 a.m. because she needed to take her children to the school bus; however, the court noted the woman’s mother lived with them, and was often called upon to watch the children including taking early mornings when the woman’s job absolutely required it.

After shining light on further discrepancies, the court noted:

Taken as a whole, the evidence leads me to conclude that [the employer] Custom was a good employer to the plaintiff. Custom allowed the plaintiff flexibility with her hours, and showed her sympathy and accommodation following earlier miscarriages and throughout her last pregnancy. In return, Custom expected and understood that the plaintiff would be able to come to work in the early morning when required, and be willing and able to field early morning telephone calls from home or en route to work.

When it came time to accommodate her third child, the employer was ill-positioned since the woman had not provided key information concerning her need for accommodation, and not given details about her efforts to secure child care.

By law, all employees have a positive duty to cooperate with an employer as part of the human rights accommodation process, which includes providing information concerning family-related needs, and working with the employer to identify possible solutions.  In this case, the woman had simply failed to provide the employer with the information it needed to accommodate her.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Peternel v. Custom Granite & Marble Ltd., 2018 

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

 

 

 

Court Comes Down Hard on Self-Represented Wife – And Orders $150,000 in Costs Against Her

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Court Comes Down Hard on Self-Represented Wife – And Orders $150,000 in Costs Against Her

On a recent ruling to allocate costs of the litigation between a former couple that lasted almost two decades, the court had some pointed comments about self-represented litigants in general, and about the wife’s unreasonable conduct in the case, specifically.

The court began its judgment this way:

A New Year

It is 2019, and Ian and Katherine Kirby, after 17 years, have a Final Order in their marathon matrimonial struggle.

There is one more battle to fight, however – costs.

The Judgment

The trial, more like a sentence than a sojourn, lasted ten days.  Katherine acted for herself, and she is responsible for much of the prolongation of the hearing.

Although the divorce itself was agreed upon, the court listed the many specific legal issues that needed to be resolved through litigation between the former couple.  Each spouse had been successful on some issues and not others, and some had garnered only “mixed” success.  Overall, however, the court concluded that the husband was more successful in the outcome than the wife, and that he was more deserving of costs.

The court then made some general comments about self-represented litigants:

The proliferation of self-represented litigants in family law cases is here to stay.  I suspect that there are many reasons for that: cuts to legal aid services, the self-help resorted to on the world wide web, and (let us not be so naïve to ignore) the voluntary choice by some litigants to act for themselves because they think that the judge will be forced into being their advocate.

With respect to the latter category of self-represented litigants, it is time that we recognize that there are some (not most, maybe even not many) persons who can readily afford legal counsel but simply choose to act for themselves because they think that it will provide them a tactical edge in the courtroom.  It will cause the presiding judicial official to go overboard with assistance, not just procedurally but substantively, or so goes the rationale.

There is nothing wrong with self-representation.  What is wrong, though, is hijacking the proceeding at the expense of the other side (who has counsel) and then expecting mercy from the court when it comes to deciding costs.

We do not have two sets of rules and principles for costs in family litigation – one for those who hire lawyers and one for those who act for themselves.

It then elaborated on what a court’s guiding principles are when awarding costs:

The principles apply to both types of litigants: (i) in deciding entitlement to costs, consider the presumption that a successful party deserves some costs, and consider the factors outlined in the Family Law Rules, and take into account any other relevant circumstance; (ii) in deciding quantum of costs, remember the basic tenet that the goal is to achieve something that is fair, just and reasonable, and keep in mind the prudent expectations of the parties, and pay attention to the importance of proportionality, and assess (but do not dissect line by line) the reasonableness of the time spent and the fees and disbursements charged.

The court added:

Above all, place some emphasis on why we award costs to begin with – to partially indemnify successful litigants, and to encourage settlement (even where the final result was worse than what the party offered to settle for), and to sanction and deter inappropriate conduct by litigants (even behaviour that falls short of “bad faith”).

The process by which we decide costs is not science.  It is more artful than that.  Consequently, there is an inescapable degree of arbitrariness to any costs award.  To pretend otherwise, I respectfully suggest, is a little rich.

The court then examined the spouses’ respective conduct during the course of the litigation.  In fairness, it noted that both spouses were responsible for the fact that the file languished for years and years. But it credited the husband for making greater efforts to settle without a trial, for being better prepared, and for behaving “much more admirably during trial”.

On the other hand, the wife’s conduct was unreasonable:  She made late-breaking “wild allegations” of being raped by her husband, and failed to comply with prior orders.  Even her submission on costs was filed late, after being granted an extension, and it did not comply with the court’s express directions on its length.  (The court read it nonetheless, as a courtesy).

As the court summed it up:  “She single-handedly caused the hearing to be significantly longer than it should have been” and her conduct in the past two years or so was “worthy of serious condemnation by this Court”.

It concluded that the case “ought to have never went to trial,” and that “awarding to [the husband] every cent of the $190,438.63 is in the cards”.

However, the court noted that the wife is “indeed, mentally ill”, a fact confirmed by the family physician’s evidence, and surmised that some of her unreasonableness is due to her psychological issues.  Concluding that this militated against awarding the husband his full costs, the court reduced the total to an even $150,000, all-in.  Those costs were to be immediately deducted from the wife’s share of the proceeds of the matrimonial home.

For the full text of the decision, see:

Kirby v. Kirby, 2019

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

Family Judge Says:   “The Guidelines are Not a Price List”

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Family Judge Says: “The Guidelines are Not a Price List”

Many of or previous Blog posts have illustrated how the provincial Child Support Guidelines, and its federal counterpart, the federal Child Support Guidelines work in various factual contexts, to guide parents and judges in determining how much child support each separated or divorcing parent should pay.

In the past year alone, we have given examples of  how special expenses such as a child’s sports or extracurricular activities are dealt with; how self-employment income is accounted for in the calculations, and even how the Guidelines are to be used to calculate child support for adult children..

What should be abundantly clear from those many illustrations, is that when the matter of child support is placed before a judge, the Guidelines are merely a starting-point for what becomes a complex mathematical calculation that takes numerous factors into account.   This is why it’s often perplexing for separating parents to try to determine what support amounts are fair, when they don’t have the help of a lawyer to guide them.

The recent case called Vidal v. Dunn is an excellent example of the complexity and number of different that this exercise entails.  As we chronicled in prior Blogs on this case, the parents had a raft of child support-related disputes between them, including the question of whether their troubled teenaged daughter’s criminal defence bills – totalling over $10,000 – were considered “special or extraordinary expenses” to be shared by the parents, and whether their 20-year-old daughter was still considered to be a “child” for the purposes of being eligible for support.

In the context of making a ruling on this last issue, the court noted that both the federal Divorce Act and the Ontario Family Law Act apply the Guidelines, and both have comparable child support objectives.

But the court went on to make an interesting observation about the nature of the Guidelines themselves:  For one thing, they are more complex than a fixed-price menu, but also not amenable to “short cuts” even by a court.  As the court wrote:

The authority to order further child support is found in legislation. The Child Support Guidelines were intended to help separated families set child support in a fair and predictable way. The Guidelines are not a price list.  It can be very complicated, especially for adult children. Entitlement to child support is a prerequisite before determining quantum under the Child Support Guidelines. The statutory path is mapped out. The court cannot customize legislation with short cuts. 

In a very recent case called Henry v. Boyer, the court emphasized the point made in Vidal v. Dunn that the Guidelines are aimed specifically at helping “separated families” to set child support both fairly and predictably.  But there are many variables in that calculation, a point that newly-separated parents should keep in mind when trying to forge the path forward towards a divorce.  It’s always a good idea to seek the advice of an experienced Family lawyer.

For the full text of the decisions, see:

Vidal v. Dunn, 2018 

Henry v. Boyer, 2018

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