Once a divorced or separated couple established (either through the courts or on their own) any child or spousal support obligations, it can be difficult to change them. However, life throws many curveballs at people, and situations do change. When that happens, the courts will consider variations to support. But those seeking variations should be careful. As we saw in a recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, people seeking variations should be prepared to cooperate fully with the courts and demonstrate that a variation is indeed necessary.

Arrears build

The couple appeared before an Ontario judge in 2009, at which time the father was ordered to pay the mother child support equaling $1,073 per month as well as spousal support in the amount of $800 per month. The mother was awarded custody of the couples’ two children. However, the father failed to abide by the order, eventually moving to Alberta.

Eight years passed, with the father building up $145,000 in arrears, interest, and penalties. In 2017 the father appeared before an Alberta court and convinced it to lower his support obligations to just $162 per month, based on a disclosed income of $17,919 per year. He then went to Ontario to ask for the Alberta order to be made in Ontario as well.

The mother argued for the order not to be confirmed on two grounds. The first was that there was insufficient evidence provided to the Alberta Court. Secondly, she argued that even if the process had been adequate, the husband’s evidence lacked credibility and was deceptive.

No financial disclosure

The father claimed that his income had dropped drastically since the original support order was made. In addition to not finding steady work, he claimed to have lived on the streets of Edmonton for a period of time due to issues with alcohol. While the father claimed he had found work with a bricklayer and was making $17,000 per year, the court had significant issues with his credibility. One of the main issues noted by the court was the father’s refusal to provide bank and credit card statements from 2012 to present. The father claimed he could not afford to do so. Additionally, his documents relating to his bankruptcy were incomplete.

The court challenged the father’s claims, noting that he took trips to Columbia, Portugal, and France, with some of the trips taking place after his variation claim was made. Ultimately, the court found that the father’s lifestyle was inconsistent with his lifestyle. The father said his trips were paid for with points from a credit card he used at work, but again, he failed to show anything to prove that claim. The court wrote,

“I simply do not believe (the father) when he says that the trips that he has taken were purchased through a points card which reflected his at work gas purchases.  This means that, assuming (the father) is telling the truth when he says his finances are completely separate from those of [his girlfriend], that he is paying for the trips from his own resources, which remain undisclosed to this court.”

With questions of credibility abound, the court refused to confirm the Alberta order.

To speak with an experienced Windsor lawyer about child custody or support, call 519.973.1500 or contact us online. Many of our clients are referred to us by former and current clients, and also by lawyers, counsellors and other professionals.