Canada High Court Reserves Retroactive Child Support Ruling

The Supreme Court of Canada has reserved a ruling on a controversial child support ruling that may change the face of child support in Canada. When parents’ income changes, the child support they pay and receive is designed to change accordingly. In the past, that change has occurred only when one of the parents petitions a court and requests an adjustment. Now a “pilot project” in Alberta has made that adjustment automatic for some parents.

The child support payers – all fathers, and all facing massive debts because they made more money and didn’t adjust the support they were paying, are arguing that the change amounts to a massive transfer of wealth and will generate more conflict between parents.

The mothers argue that parents should pay for their children in relation to their ability to pay, period, and that the new approach will actually lessen conflict because it will give child support payers an incentive to make incremental adjustments as their income changes, with less drama.

As the result of yesterday’s decision not to decide, a definitive ruling on the principle of retroactive child support adjustments is probably several months away.

Here’s an article about it from the Canadian Press and another from CBC Alberta.


  1. Lee Borden says:

    Please understand that, as the new wife, it’s your job to resent Mom. Fortunately for Mom, we don’t let new wives decide how much support Dads should pay.

    If Mom is neglecting her child, and/or if the child is really spending more time with Dad than with Mom, Dad should ask the court to change the order so the child lives with Dad and Mom pays support.

  2. Karen says:

    I wish it were that easy. We have talked to our lawyer about exactly that. We have been told that our payments would remain the same whether we had him 10% or 90%!!! The courts have also said that as long as the people looking after him don’t harm him she can give him to whomever and whenever she wants. We’ve also been told that getting full custody is 95% impossible for fathers unless the mother has a severe coke habit or something of the sort. Because he’s 10 now he’s been on the same schedule for far too long so the chances of getting him full time is slim to none or LESS! The funny thing is that one of the reasons I fell in love with my husband is because of what a great dad he is. He is so wonderful with the kids!!! She doesn’t deserve her son even part of the time as she admits that he is like a husband to her – a sounding board!!!

  3. Karen says:

    One More thing…I guess what upsets me most is that if this were alimony she could do whatever she wants with the money but the fact that the judge said right to us that it doesn’t matter what she spends the child support on infuriates me. Years ago you used to have to produce receipts if requested. I think that they should still have that rule. I also think you should be able to request that a portion of the money go to his education fund or a savings account for the child.

  4. Karen says:

    What I probably should have mentioned was that I don’t believe it is my job to resent the old mom. In fact, I would have no problem paying her support if she worked to the best of her ability. If she worked hard (full time) and couldn’t make ends meet that would be one thing. But she has turned down 3 full time jobs in her field in order to continue working full time which I DO NOT believe in. I love my stepson and would do anything for him. I work full time to support my kids and when my parents split up my mom raised 3 of us full time while working full time without support payments from my dad. Its one thing to NEED the money because you can’t make ends meet but to expect it is the problem I have. The laws in Canada do not help in our situation.

  5. j. lessard says:

    I agree with Karen. I don’t think it is the new wife job to hate the old wife. In fact when I met my husband his ex had a good job, he paid his child support monthly, and all was fine. We went ahead and had our own family. But then she got greedy. She didn’t love her job (who does?) so decided she was going to get another degree. She also decided to move accross the country (and threatened their father not to stop her or she’d make his life a living hell…) So for the last 5 years she has not paid one cent for medical, dental, orthodontic bills, flights for her children to see their dad, day care, lessons for kids and on and on. She just decided she had a “dream” and had a right to follow it and a right to make her ex pay for her to follow it! No, she has just as much of an obligation to financially support her children as their father does. That is the FIRST sentance in the Can. Child Support guidelines that “the children continue to benefit from the financial means of BOTH parents” although here in Canada they really only mean the father has to financially support them, the mothers are looked at as “victims” that can do whatever they want to. She has told my husband that she doesn’t CARE AT ALL how this affects our family, me, or our 2 children. But we lose 1/2 our net salary to pay for her lifestyle as an eternal student and I am not supposed to be upset?! She lives in some fantasy world and her actions directly affect her children (another 5 years being poor cause she choose not to work) and MY children too, barely making ends meet each month. Selfish, stupid custodial mothers are the ones the second wives hate. When she was “normal” and had a job I had no anger towards her.

  6. Frustrated and don't understand says:

    Hi there,

    So…I went to court again, another $4500 to add on to the bills and it went some my way and some my ex’s. Regardless, I hope this is over. It’s so frustrating as a single mom who does work her a$$ off (3 jobs) to pay my bills and child support which was doubled by the judge. The upside of this…my son doesn’t appear to want to go to college in the fall which means when he turns 18 in Feb 09 my support will stop. My son graduated this year and appears to be picking up on a few of the things going on with his dad. Time will tell how much he sees but I am seeing more of him than I used to. So this in itself is worth all the pain and hardship I have endured.

    My ex can then ride off in the sunset on one of his two harleys or pull them in the brand new 2008 F150 tricked out truck with the nice big matching trailer to pull the harleys in. His claims in court that “why should his son suffer because she is putting money into RRSP’s for her retirement”. Didn’t matter that we don’t have pensions where I work and we all know that the CPP won’t be available when we retire. Nor will it pay for food let alone gas these days. the judge gave him what he wanted but what’s done is done. I will continue to work my a$$ off until it’s done. Fighting this stupidity only causes one to go insane. The laws aren’t set up for those that follow them, they are established for those who try to manipulate and break them and they work to their benefit.

    I digress…sorry bout that. :-)

    I saw a question earlier and not sure if our Canadian laws mirror those of where the “Tracy – Stepmom of 2” lives but my lawyer told me (and I confirmed with MEP) that support stops at 18 if the child is not attending school full time. You are only obligated to pay support for your child after 18 years of age if the child lives at home full time and attends school full time. If child lives away and attends school full time, support is stopped but you would be responsible for a % of Section 7’s. Having said that, it also states that if the child is working there is some onus on them to pay for some of their expenses as well. Would really depend on what the parents agree to and I guess , what the child is taking and for how long.

    In terms of this girl who is 20, not living at home and not being able to verify any substantiating data, I would suggest contacting a lawyer to see what the loopholes might be available. If an order isn’t changed, the people or entities who enforce it can’t do anything. I can’t imagine you would be held responsible for these payments without substantiating evidence from the parent or child? Perhaps its’ as simple (but could cost some bucks) as pursuing changing of the order thru a lawyer (this process could be lengthy as the courts are always willing to give more time to the offender so be patient)and file it with the enforcement agency?.

    I don’t understand why people can’t move on and continue to live in a place of Ego and negativity. It doesn’t benefit anyone and certainly sets these kids up for bad relationships.

    In response to “karen’s” issue….I know in Canada that if you can prove you have custody of the child 40% or more of the time for a sustained period of time (say 6-12 months) you can have the order varied. Also, at the age of 11 in Canada, the courts tend to consider what the kids want and I know this is the card my ex played on me. My son was manipulated and prompted to want to live with his dad for his dad’s own reasons – to make me pay anyway he could, but if it’s any consolation, at 13 in Canada they can live where they want to. My recommendation here is that you get your child to a phsycologist and ensure you document EVERYTHING you see fromthe time you pick up your child till he gets home. This on top of Psychologist reports will solidify what’s going on. It can be a long arduous process but well worth it at the end of the day when you are building affidavits in court. The judges will only see the last 2 affidavits they look at unless it’s a high profile case they normally don’t look past those so document everything in detail with dates and times, hire a lawyer and look after the childs best interests. Soon he can choose to live where he wants and it will be with you by the sounds of it.

    that’s all for me for now but God Bless You All out there who are fighting the good fight and not stooping to the levels of those that harass, taunt, stalk, and don’t have the best interests of the children in mind”. You are the bigger souls out there and your prayers will be answered….just put them out there into the Universe and they will be answered. Time, patience (this is the really hard part without snapping or going mentally insane) and perseverance will win out. I wouldn’t have believed this 5 years ago, but after years of counselling, soul searching and recently letting go of the anger, hurt and resentment, things are turning around for me.

    Take care out there….and smiles from one frustrated mom to all of you out there.

  7. Concerned Mother says:

    One correction to Frustrated’s post, the age of majority or when Child support may stop will vary from province to province. For example, my step daughter resides in Nova Scotia, we are required to pay until she is 19. Of course, further if she goes on to post-secondary school.

    One of the things that bother’s the heck out of me is that the government bodies in their all mighty wisdom decides which provinces guidelines will apply and how. For example, we must pay until the child is 19 as she resides in NS (that province’s guideline) but we reside in Alberta the higher guideline province, so therefore, our child support is based on Alberta guideline.

    I would think that if we are paying based on Alberta guidelines then we should only have to pay until 18. If paying until 19, then NS child support guideline table should be used.

    I agree with the comments that it is not the responsibility of the new wife to hate or resent the old wife. However, the problem that have is that I am the first wife, my hubby was not married to his ex and it was an extremely short lived relationship. She came to Alberta just long enough to sleep with various men, trying to get pregnant and then returned to NS once she was pregnant. My hubby was already paying support, so he was a good target to say was the father. When they went to court he was quite young, had terrible legal advice and was told to obtain paternity testing would just hold things up and he may be responsible for backpay then. He was terrified by this notion, so just coughed up was stated. We weren’t paying too extreme in monthly support payments but decided if she took us back to court being as we have never known this child and not sure if she was his or not, that we would have a test done. She is his daughter. The judge felt that we should be trying to have a bond with this child; however, that is not so simple after 14 years. We have tried sending cards to her for birthdays, etc with response and just keep re-iterating if she would like to get to know us we are here for her.

    It is just unfortunate that her mom, who has not worked a day in her life and has been on welfare and been the perpetual student, can’t see that she has a financial responsibility to her child as well. I was a single mom for 13 years and women like her just absolutely upset me as they do give other hard working, providing mothers a bad name to men out there.

    Now my hubby has not been able to work due to a work place injury for over a year now nd from month to month we do not even know if he will be covered by WCB or cut off as has happened on two different occasions now. But her child support still has to get paid. whether or not we can provide food for our home and pay our mortgage is irrelevant.

    When will the system learn that it does take two to create the child but it does not take one to financially provide for the child. His ex, has never worked but the court figures that the child would have benefitted more due to his increased wages and therefore, charges more support, not even paying any attention to the fact that she is intentionally underemployed. The last time we were in court the judge said that it is unfortunate that she has chose to live a not have province instead of here in alberta where jobs are a plenty.

    Well, eventually all will work itself out as the system and how it proceeds is out of our control. Take care everyone and all the best.

  8. I am a 64 yr. old soon to be 65 female. My ex husband left me for a younger woman and a gold digger. When my ex left me we had accumulated over a million dollars in assets. I stayed in the house for almost two years but I had to spend all of my RRSP’s on legal fees. When I didn’t have any more money I had to apply for legal aid while my ex still maintained a very expensive lawyer. The court ordered my home sold and I was ordered not to go near it and had to live on the streets. I could not get a legal aid lawyer to stay on my case because it was so complicated. Justice Wildman made a ruling on the financials and awarded my ex husband all of the proceeds from the sale of the family home. There was never anything said about his half million pensions or the money he made from a business we set up together. My ex husband lied in court saying he was not working and did not get a support order. During the 25 yr. marriage I spent with my ex, he beat me voilently almost on a daily basis. He broke my nose on one accasion and on another he raped me analLy with a beer bottle.

    I told some of this to my lawyer and he put in a part to sue for so much money. My ex then filed a law suit against me for slander. Although nobody saw what he did to me, I did tell several people but they were his friends and they would not come forward and tell the truth. Instead his friends wrote notes to the court saying that he was not working and could not pay support. He even manufactured a job lost. The president of Lily Cup who was a David MacIntyre wrote a letter to the court saying that I called him so many times that he had to fire my ex. Then the head guy from Dupont for which my ex had another contract wrote a letter of the same content. My ex even had his mistress write a letter to the courts saying things about me. This was what the court believed. It is such a shame that my ex bought a condo for his mother to hide his assets and then a year later bought another property for his girlfriend MARY FELTHAM which is in her name only. I live on the streets and Justice Wildman knew this when she made the order. I can only get back into the system if I have a total of $44,000.00 to pay my ex’s legal fees. I will never have that kind of money because I didn’t get anything from the million dollars that I had saved over the span of a 25 yr. marriage.

    In that 25 yrs. I have been a victim of abuse and could never leave him because he told me that I would live on the streets. And guess what he was right. I have been living on the streets for over two yrs. I have seen so much from my ex that I thought the police should know so I went to them and that sealed my fate. The police know that I have bi polar disorder and they arrested me on his word alone.

    I was arrested four times for telling the truth. The first time I was charged with assault on him. He is 6’6″ and weighs 300 lbs. I am 5′ and 100 lbs. He has continued to follow me around and at one time he found me sleeping outside at Kempenfelt Bay in Barrie. He had his friends Bob Vandrish and Mel Sangia, and his girlfriend Mary Feltham with him. I was raped both vaginally and anally with a stick by my ex as Mrs. Feltham sat on my face and Bob and Mel each held a leg. I could not go to the police as by now my ex had told them about my bi polar condition and they were not even taking anything I said seriouly. I bled for two years before I finally went to a doctor.

    I have always known that my ex and his family had big time problems but somehow I never thought it would affect me as long as I kept my mouth shut. As I started seeing a psychitrist and therphist I discovered that the best thing to do was to kept my mouth shut. Even though you are taught to get out. Yes I got out but I suffered another way. I was and always will be living on the street because Justice Wildman spent more time squirming in her seat as my ex’s lawyer Andrew Feldstein motioned sexually and batted his eyes at her. From then on she had no idea what abuse was. The worst abuse that one can have is to be sentenced to proverty for the rest of ones life. Who in hell is going to employ a 64 yr. old that has bi polar disorder.

    My ex had problems with having a normal sex life with me. He told me that he was forced to proform with his mother Lena Baker when he was younger. I watched my ex have sex with his mother Lena Baker many times over the 25 yrs. that I was with her son. I watched my ex and his mother Lena both molest his little six yr old nephew. I was doomed when I saw this because I knew nobody would believe that such a thing could ever happen. I also watched my ex have sex with other little children and was shocked so badly that I tried to jump overboard off the ship we were cruising on.

    My best advise to the abused is: If you are old do not leave. The abuse will lessen as he gets older and has less strength. Don’t mention to him that you are thinking of going to the law. The law will never believe you because they are not trainned to deal with abuse. In other words stay and take the abuse or be prepared to live on the streets the rest of your life.

    If you are younger do the following: Save cash somewhere and don’t even tell your close friends or family members. Make sure you have a vehicle in your name. Leave in the morning while he is at work to get a head start. And get out of the province immediately. Do not go to a family member or friend because he will come after you. Do not go to a home for the abused. I made that mistake myself. After you have excaped, change your name. If you have kids change their names as well. ALWAYS keep looking over your shoulder and never let your guard down. DO NOT go to the courts looking for any kind of financial support because the courts will always give out your phone number and address. BE PREPARED TO SUPPORT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY IF YOU WANT TO LIVE.


  9. Frustrated and don't understand says:


    My heart goes out to you. I am sure that your post will make a difference in someones life.

    To the other Alberta Girl….I totally understand where you are coming from. The Alberta laws make no sense at all. I specifically had it written in my order that MEP could augment my payments based on my return information so that I wouldn’t have to deal with this anymore. When I talked to MEP, they said they “weren’t there yet”. What the heck does that mean …..”They aren’t there yet”? If you have it written in your order they should easily be able to adjust your payments based on your tax assessment information. It’s quite simple, however it now appears they won’t do it.

    My ex is delusional and it’s pointless for us to try and work anything out which explains why he is my ex I guess. But I tried mediators, psychologists, DRO’s, etc over the course of 6 years and he continually threatens lawyers. Better to be a victim I guess than be part of a reasonable and fair solution.

    Craziness that they (the government and MEP) can freeze your bank accounts, garnishees your cheques, withhold you being able to get a license and force you to pay support even though you cannot support yourself. Yet…they cannot augment a support payment based on their counterpart government bodies paper. Ridiculous.

    The message is your own survival isn’t important as a responsible paying parent nor should you be cut any slack when unforeseeable events occure. As long as you make it easy for the other parent not to work because lets face it….why should they when they get more money on welfare and don’t have to pay tax? Why work if you can net out at the same amount financially in being on welfare in comparison to someone who works for a living and pays taxes so that you can collect welfare. It’s a vicious circle.

    Something has to be done.

    Take care and stay strong.

  10. Drew F. says:


    If my wife had cheated or had an intimate “emotional” affair that led to the end of our marriage, would that be taken into consideration in the outcome of our finances etc? How would she be viewed in the eyes of the court?

  11. Karen says:

    Hi Drew F,

    According to the courts, affairs no longer matter in the eyes of the law. That was the problem with my husband’s ex. She was having affair after affair and disappearing for weekends at a time, leaving a 6 month at home. It used to be that that would make for a big emotional case, but that is no longer the case….sadly, that won’t hold up in court. At least that’s what both Judges have said to us…

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  13. Mike says:

    I have full custody of my two children, and, the court has ordered my soon to be ex-wife to pay child support to amount set forth by the appropriate tables for my situation.
    What is my problem? Well she is has not payed child support starting from the original order which includes retro amounts as well. She is fully capable of working with no impediments and she is well educated as well. Her now boyfriend is so far in arrears and has admitted to my children that this is all a big game and they will never pay a cent. Should the judge be made aware of these comments also? Also now that she has filed for a simple divorce she is contesting the equalization of assets. ( also she is saying that her student loans prior to marriage are to be used to off-set the equalization of assets ) Now that adultery is not an issue in Ontario courts other than to represent the moral compass of the person who committed the adultery.

    I live in Ontario Canada and have found scant information about this topic of debts prior to marriage and it being used to off-set the equalization process.


  14. Chelsea says:

    I live in Ontario and my parents are getting divorced, and my dad said that if I’m not nice to him and go visit him he will not contribute to my university education. Is he allowed to do this, or is there a law that will force him to pay? If anyone knows where I can find the answer to this, please let me know, thanks :)

  15. Frustrated and don't understand says:


    If you are living at home and a full time student in a university or college, it is my understanding that your dad may be responsible to pay for a portion of your school. I know in Alberta that it states that if the child (you) is able to work it is not unreasonable for you to also contribute to your school costs to some degree. The other thing I recently read was that if there was specific language in the support order stating he pays until the time of 20 yrs old for instance, your dad may not have to pay anything once you pass that age regardless of whether or not you are in school.

    Hope this helps.

  16. Cindy in Alberta says:

    Just wanted to know if there is any place where people collect names of bad divorce lawyers so that innocent people do not get taken by lawyers just interested in making a buck.

    Also does anyone know of a group of debtors in Alberta called the “Untouchables” these are self employed debtors that MEP cannot touch due to their schrewdness in hiding assets, abilities to register vehicles in company names, and can hold international drivers licenses which prevents them from having their licenses taken away.

  17. Frustrated and don't understand says:

    Hey Cindy,

    I haven’t heard of any group called the untouchables but bet a divorce lawyer might? Also..I don’t have any idea of a blog that lists bad divorce lawyers. I imagine that might attract some litigation given they are lawyers and all. Personally…I think the best course of action is to educate yourself so that when the lawyers start going down that road (lord knows I went thru 4 of them myself) that you recognize that they are veering off course and at that time it’s your choice to put them back on the right track or no longer retain their services. I do have the name of a few good lawyers though now that I have had to sift thru them.

  18. naive says:

    how does over payment of child support work in al? based on date of filing modification?

  19. Splum says:

    Can FRO (Family Responsibilities Office) give out payor updated contact info (a new phone number) to the child support recipient? Or is it confidential info?

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