Income Disparity & Child Support
In a recent decision, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench dealt with retroactive child support in a situation where the parties had a significant disparity in income. In Baker v. Baker, Justice Topolniski dealt with a case where the father whose income increased over $2 million since the divorce as he had worked his way up the ranks of his company reaching President and CEO. The mother was a stay-at-home parent whose income was $12,000.00. The mother sought retroactive child support from 2008 to 2013 in the amount of $605,373.00 and ongoing child support of $29,806.00 per month.
At Trial, the mother’s position was that an untenable disparity in the parties’ income existed and she sought support that would allow her to provide the children the same experiences that the husband’s income would allow him to provide. The father wanted to continue paying the $8,000.00 per month in section 3 support that he had been paying since 2013. Both children were high-level hockey players who were anticipated to be drafted into the Western Hockey League (WHL). Part of the monies that the mother was seeking were to renovate her home and to purchase a new car. The father argued that the children were not in need of these monies and that any award would serve to only benefit the mother and the children’s step family.
The Court agreed with the father’s position and denied the application. In doing so the court commented that a mere existence of income disparity, even as significant as in this case, does not always equate to children living at a lesser or lower lifestyle than they would have enjoyed but for the divorce. The Court went on and provided the parties with a reminder that the determination of child support engages a child-centered analysis of the children’s condition, needs and other circumstances and their parent’s ability to pay. This consideration is not to be displaced by an assumption that the children are automatically entitled to share in the entirety of the payor parent’s wealth.