On Monday, July 14, 2014, the Supreme Court of British Columbia published a recent judgment by the Honourable Mr. Justice Jenkins wherein the payor husband was found in contempt of court for failing to comply with an order to pay child support to the recipient wife.
The parties had attended a trial before the same Justice in 2012 and the Court imputed an income of $110,000 to the payor husband, despite the payor husband arguing that his true income was significantly lower. In February 2014, the husband stopped making the ordered child support payments and unilaterally reduced the amounts he provided to the recipient wife, saying that he would be making payments calculated according to a lower income that he said he was earning.
On application, Mr. Justice Jenkins rejected the husband’s evidence that the husband had become destitute and was financially incapable of complying with the child support order. The Court commented that the husband’s evidence was disorganized and failed to raise a reasonable doubt as to his ability to comply with the order. The Court concluded that the husband’s disobedience of the court order was willful, and sentenced him to 7 days imprisonment, which sentence was suspended for 30 days to allow the husband some time to pay the child support arrears of over $19,000 in order to purge his contempt.
This case is a good example of the need to make an application to reduce a support obligation rather than unilaterally stopping or lowering your payments. The old saying, “it’s better to ask for forgiveness rather than permission” generally does not apply when it comes to your British Columbia child support order. If you have a British Columbia child support order which you are unable to pay, your first stop ought to be a consultation with a British Columbia family law lawyer.
You can see the full text of the decision here: T.T. v. C.G., 2014 BCSC 1279.
Author: Virginia Richards