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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local community groups team up to fundraise for Cowichan Hospice Gardens

Artists for Hospice is Saturday February 29th from 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm at 444 Parkhill Terrace

Wonderettes bring the fun while belting out the hits

Four-part harmonies in Chemainus Theatre production sure to be music to your ears

‘My intuition saved my life’: Lynda Diamond finds life after death

Lynda Diamond died of a cardiac arrest, and was revived by Dr. Graham Brockley at the LCHC

Tourism and film team up to celebrate Sonic the Hedgehog première

Tourism Vancouver Island and Vancouver Island North Film Comission look to leverage film tourism

Chemainus woman sets a new standard for 106-year-olds

Active lifestyle includes a trip to Scotland in the works for May

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Canucks acquire forward Tyler Toffoli from Kings in push for playoffs

Vancouver sends Schaller, Madden, pick to L.A.

New highway proposed between Alberta and B.C.

The route would connect Red Deer to Kamloops

Wet’suwet’en and B.C. government have been talking Aboriginal title for a year

Coastal GasLink says it has agreements with all 20 elected First Nations councils along the 670-kilometre route

Trudeau tightlipped on plan to end protests ‘quickly and peacefully’

The prime minister, who cancelled a two-day trip to Barbados this week to deal with the crisis at home

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

Canadian standards for coronavirus protection to be reviewed, health agency says

The protocols set out how health workers should protect themselves and their patients

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Most Read