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Calgary Family Spousal Support Lawyers

Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support cases involve more discretion than do child support cases between natural parents. The court has the power to depart from the Child Support Guidelines amounts in Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support disputes. The concept of the biological parent bearing primary responsibility for paying child support applies but this does not mean the step parent gets off without paying nay support in a Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support case. However, the court can lower the amount of support and shorten the period of the obligation in disputed Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support cases. Under rare circumstances support can be zero and our award winning Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support lawyers can guide you through this complex high stakes area.  We have offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Surrey, Richmond, Kelowna and Fort St John. Call us toll free to get the help you need at 1-877-602-9900.

Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support Case  Judge Awards Zero Where “Father” Duped

Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support Lawyers 1-877-602-9900
Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support Lawyers 1-877-602-9900

As we pointed out above, disputed Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support cases often result in Step parents being held liable to pay for child support of children they supported during their relationship with the child’s natural parent.

  • What happens though when a father of a child was tricked when thought he was the biological father?  What happens when it turns out that another man fathered the child without his knowledge?
  • Should the now shocked and perhaps angry “stepfather” bear financial responsibility for a child that isn’t his?
  • Does it matter if that the duped “father” wants a continued relationship with their newly discovered “step-child?”
  • What about the biological father’s primary responsibility to support their child?

All of these confusing and emotionally explosive issues arose in a recent BC Supreme Court decision where the natural mother went after a surprised non natural father for child support after testing proved she conceived the baby with another man that she failed to disclose the name or financial circumstances of.

In the end result the mother got zero and had costs awarded against her.

Here is what the court decided in E.Z. v. P.Z., 2017 BCSC 375 :

The applicant, E.Z., seeks an order for child support from the respondent, P.Z., for her son, D., who was born March 30, 2009 and will soon be eight years old.

[2]             As the parties had been married for three years when D. arrived, the respondent took it for granted that he was the child’s natural father. This turned out to be wrong. Instead, it appears that D. was the result of a dalliance between the applicant and another man. None the wiser, the respondent took up his role as the child’s parent and performed that role until the parties separated or shortly thereafter. The respondent denies any responsibility to pay for D.’s maintenance in the circumstances.

Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support Involves Discretion

EXERCISING DISCRETION

[30]         In G.N.P., Boudreau J. exercised his discretion under s. 5 of the Guidelines to limit the non-biological parent’s liability to pay child support to one-third of the Guidelines amount that would otherwise be payable. This had much to do with the very long period during which the man had stood in the place of parent to the twins, the fact that the twins themselves considered him to be their father, and the fact that the man wanted to have an ongoing parent-like relationship with the boys.

[31]         In limiting the non-biological parent’s liability, Boudreau J. held that a liberal and purposive interpretation of “any other parent’s legal duty to support the child” in s. 5 of the Guidelines was broad enough to include, in the case before him, the support obligation of the twin children’s biological father, the non-biological parent whose support was being sought, and the mother’s current spouse, who had taken the place of a parent to the children and who, by the way, was the natural father’s brother.

[32]         The mother seeking child support in G.N.P. came to court knowing full well who the twins’ natural father was, but she had made a conscious decision not to inform him or to seek child support from him, presumably, Boudreau J. found, because she was now involved in a marriage-like relationship with the man’s brother. Just like the claimant before me, in other words, the twins’ mother sought to have the entire burden of support fall to her former spouse, the sadly deceived and abandoned non-biological parent. Boudreau J. concluded that it would be “most inappropriate, unjust, and unfair” to permit this, and I have decided that it would be equally so in the present case.

Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support When Paying Father Is Not Really The Father Can Mean Child Support Denied

[33]         Our Court of Appeal has noted that reduction or apportionment of child support obligations in the case of step-parents is not incompatible with Chartier. In Dutrisac v. Ulm, 2000 BCCA 334, at para. 22, Esson J.A. stated that:

…In holding that a person who stands in the place of a parent cannot unilaterally terminate that status, the Supreme Court said nothing about the power of a court, under either the Divorce Act or provincial legislation, to grant a reduction of the amount of child support required to be paid by a stepparent. In my view, nothing in Chartier would preclude an order reducing the quantum of the obligation to zero if, in all the circumstances, that was found to be appropriate.

[34]         In the present case, to summarise, there is no doubt that when D. was born, the respondent believed him to be his natural child. The respondent’s name appears on the boy’s birth certificate. The respondent cared and provided for D. in every respect as his own son during the short interval in question at the very beginning of the boy’s life. D. would, of course, have considered the respondent to be his father, although they have now been estranged for longer than they lived together and his memories are bound to become vague and dim. I doubt it could truly be said, given D.’s tender years and the brevity of the connection between them, that the child formed any durable expectations of the respondent.

[35]         While in the language of Chartier it is perfectly clear that the respondent stood in the place of a parent to D. while the family functioned as a unit, the fact remains that the whole thing was based on a serious and fundamental misapprehension of fact. The short relationship between the respondent and D. stands in obvious contrast, as I have said, to the situations outlined in G.N.P., Ballmick, and Cornelio. I also bear in mind that the claimant has moved across the country in order, I infer, to make a clean break with her past, and there is no desire on either side for renewal of any relationship between the respondent and the child.

[36]         I note, as well, the total absence of evidence in the record before me concerning the identity or circumstances of the boy’s natural father, who bears the primary responsibility to support D. The claimant has provided no evidence at all concerning the circumstances of D.’s conception, or who the natural father is or might be, where he lives, or what efforts, if any, have been made to identify, locate, or notify him of his lawful obligation to provide support for the child. Similarly, although it seems that the claimant has re-partnered and D. has been integrated into a new household with another man standing in the place of his parent, I have been told nothing about this man’s circumstances, his finances, or his ability to satisfy D.’s material needs.

[37]         I am by no means satisfied that, in all the circumstances, it would be in the least bit just, appropriate or fair to order that the respondent should bear the full responsibility for supporting the child. In light of the complete absence of evidence concerning the means and circumstances of other parents who owe a legal duty to meet the needs of the child, in fact, and having taken into account all of the factors peculiar to this case that I have referred to above as required by Chartier, I consider this to be the sort of case foreseen in Dutrisac where the quantum of the respondent’s support should be reduced to zero.

In the end result costs were also awarded against the mother.

If you have a difficult and complex Vancouver Calgary Step Parent Child Support dispute and want top counsel to assist why not call one of our MacLean Family Lawyers today at 1-877-602-9900.