Surprise Divorce Leads To Challenge Collecting Support


Despite decades of experience in family law, we still occasionally come across case summaries that cause us to raise our eyebrows. One recent example of this is a decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in which a woman tried to get spousal and child support orders from the father of her children who had divorced her and remarried without her knowledge. Wondering how this happened? Keep reading to find out.

Leading up to the divorce

The mother immigrated to Canada in 2005 and obtained Canadian citizenship in 2012. She married the father in 2009. He worked and lived in Louisiana when they met. They had one child together while they lived in two countries, but she moved to the United States in 2010. They had a second child in 2014.

In 2015 the father suggested to the mother that she take the children on a vacation to Pakistan. Her United States Green Card had expired at the time, and she expressed concern about leaving the country before it was renewed. The father told her not to worry, and that she could travel under her Canadian passport.

When the mother and children attempted to return to the United States, they were denied entry. After being stranded for two days in Turkey, they eventually flew to Toronto where they met the husband. He returned to the United States, repeatedly telling the mother he was working on getting her Green Card issue resolved.

A surprise divorce

Unbeknownst to the mother, the father had returned to Pakistan in 2016 and remarried while there. He then obtained a divorce in the United States on December 1, 2016. The mother did not learn of this until July 2018 when someone showed her photos of the father’s second wedding. She had no idea the divorce trial had occurred in the United States.

Spousal and Child Support

The mother sought orders on a number of items, including spousal support and child support.

The father did not cooperate with the trial occurring in Canada and was eventually cut off from the proceedings. The court eventually imputed his annual income at $335,400. On the matter of child support, the court ordered that he pay $4,302 per month, including retroactive child support dating back to September 1, 2016. However, the court was unable to make an order for spousal support because it did not have the jurisdiction to grant such an order when a foreign divorce is issued, even if it was done so without the mother’s knowledge.

The mother’s inability to secure spousal support from an Ontario court while being able to secure a child support order should serve as a reminder to people involved in international relationships that there are additional considerations they will have to make if their relationship comes to an end.

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, counselors and other professionals.

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