Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Supreme Court of Canada to Child Support Payors: Income Increases Must be Disclosed

The Supreme Court of Canada decided yesterday in D.B.S and S.R.G. et al that child support payors who do not make timely disclosure of income increases are liable to pay increased child support retroactively under the Child Support Guidelines, once the income increases come to light.

CTV News Reports on yesterday's Supreme Court of Canada ruling:

Canada's Supreme Court has ruled ex-spouses could face hefty retroactive child support payments if they fail to declare increased earnings -- a decision that could affect thousands of divorced and separated couples across the country.

The ruling was unanimous: 7-0. The top court decided that ex-spouses -- the fathers in most cases -- who pay support have an obligation to report increases in income which could therefore boost their court-ordered payments.

"Parents have an obligation to support their children in a way that is commensurate with their income," said Justice Michel Bastarache, writing the main opinion.

"A payor parent who does not increase his-her child support payments to correspond with his-her income will not have fulfilled his-her obligation to his-her children."

The court also ruled that former spouses should be hit with retroactive penalties if they fail to inform their ex-partner about any changes to their income. The rough guideline is that penalties should not stretch back more than three years, said Bastarache.

The court left the door open for lower courts to decide on those payments on a case-by-case basis.

I'm posting this from vacation in Newfoundland, so I'll have to leave extended commentary on the Supreme Court's decision in DBS and SRG to a later date.

In short, however, this decision is not even slightly surprising. I frankly am surprised it has made national headlines.

The Guidelines are quite clear. Support is based on a payor's actual income - not on what the recipient may believe the payor's income to be.

Did anyone really expect the Court to reward payors who intentionally withhold relevant information that their incomes have increased?


- Garry J. Wise, near Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Visit our website: www.wiselaw.net/family.html

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