Court rules that child support arrears are cancelled because mother violated custody order
In a case that should serve as a warning to other parents involved in highly contentious child custody battles, the B.C. Court of Appeal ruled that a woman who moved with her child to Italy is not owed back child support from the child’s father, according to the Nanaimo Daily News. The court found that by taking the child to Italy, the mother had violated previous court orders and had not placed the interests of the child first.
Court orders mother to return to Canada
The case stems from an earlier British Columbia Supreme Court decision that ruled that if the mother wanted to apply for any back child support owed to her she would have to return to Canada and apply in person, according to the Toronto Star.
The couple in this case had a child soon after they were married, but then decided to seek a divorce soon afterwards. According to custody orders, the mother was initially given custody of the child, but the father was granted unsupervised visits on specific dates. However, prior to one of those visits the mother moved to Italy with her child without the father’s consent.
Father cancels child support
In response to the mother’s move, the father sought to have his child support obligations cancelled by a court. The mother fought against the father’s move to cancel the child support payments, but now the Court of Appeal has ruled against her in a two to one decision.
The father owed $32,000 in back support, but the judges ruled that the mother’s conduct prevented the father from actually providing support to the child. Furthermore, the court determined that ruling in the mother’s favour would effectively endorse her violation of court orders. The court ruled that if she wants to seek child support now she will have to do so in Italy. The one dissenting judge, however, said there was insufficient evidence for the court to rule against the mother and advised that the case should be sent to the Supreme Court of Canada. The mother’s lawyer has yet to comment on the ruling.
This case highlights just how contentious child support and custody issues can be following a divorce. Furthermore, this ruling goes to show just how serious the consequences can be if either parent violates a custody order issued by a court. Any parent who is looking to establish a child support or custody plan should consult with a qualified family law lawyer. Such a lawyer can help parents come up with a custody and support plan that works for them and makes sure their children are adequately provided for.