In this case that began in 2011 and ended with a final order in 2013, the Applicant filed a Motion to Change a 2007 order and sought an increase in the amount of child support payable.
The Applicant sought an order for the following:
Results of the Final Order varying the Order of 2007:
In a recent case, the Applicant (an 18 year old girl) sued the Respondents (her mother and step-father) for child support for herself.
The Applicant seeks an order for the Respondent step-father to pay her child support and contribute to her post-secondary expenses, on the basis that he acted as a parent to her.
The Respondents seek an order dismissing the Applicant's case on the basis that the Respondent Step-father never acted as a parent to her and that the Applicant repudiated her relationship with both her mother and him when she moved out of their home.
When the Applicant was 4 years old, the Applicant's mother began dating a man who would later become her spouse. When she was 8 - 10 years old, the Applicant and her mother moved in with the Respondent step-father. When she was 13, her mother and her step-father had a baby together. When she was 15, her second brother was born. In and around that time, the relationship between the Applicant and the Respondents became strained.
The Applicant moved out of the family home when she was 16 years old due to a very poor relationship with her mother. Prior to this, there were 2 incidents with police involvement, the last resulting in a restraining order. After she moved out, the Applicant struggled for a while, but with the support of various other family members, including her maternal grandmother, and Ontario Works, she was able to graduate from high school. She applied for a student loan and started a four- year program in university in September 2012.
The Applicant's biological father was not known to her and had never been part of her life. The Applicant claimed her step-father to be her father as he was the only father she had known. The Step Father was the sole breadwinner of the household, and the Applicant's mother was a stay-at-home mother with the two younger step brothers.
The Respondent step-father claimed to have never acted as a parent to the Applicant and that she never accepted him as a father. The Respondent mother claimed that she raised the Applicant by herself, as a single parent since her birth. The Respondent mother claimed that the Applicant never treated the Respondent step-father as her father and never expressed any affection towards him. The Respondent step-father had no role in any educational, health or other significant decisions concerning the Applicant. The Respondent mother made all of these decisions until the Applicant took control of her own life.
Analysis and the Law:
According to the Family Law Act, a "parent" includes "a person who has demonstrated a settled intention to treat a child as a child of his or her family." The Respondents argued that they were clear with each other from the beginning of their relationship that the Respondent step-father would not be involved in disciplining the Applicant and he did not act as her parent.
However, the young age of the Applicant when the parties began residing together, the fact that she had no other person acting as a father, that the Respondent step-father drove her and her mother to soccer games, that his parents treated her like the other grandchildren, that he was the sole breadwinner from 2007 supporting the whole family, and that he claimed her as a dependent in 2007 and 2008, supports the Applicant's position that he acted as her parent.
The Respondent step-father's 2012 income was $91,117.73. Guideline support for one child would be $810 per month. However, the Applicant was also seeking contribution to s. 7 expenses which includes residence. Since guideline support is for such expenses as shelter, for the Respondent step-father to pay both full guideline support and s. 7 expenses for university residence would be duplication. Furthermore, he was supporting the Respondent mother and their two sons as well as being the family's sole breadwinner.
The Applicant provided a budget that included University tuition and residence, text books, living expenses and dental expenses. The Applicant applied for an OSAP loan, (part of which was a grant, and the remainder was a loan), and she planned to work during the summer.
The judge felt that it would be reasonable to expect the Applicant to cover half of her post-secondary education expenses which totalled $13,188.87 (tuition, residence, books) through a combination of her loan, grant, and summer job.
In terms of the monthly child support payments, as stated above, the judge felt that it would not be reasonable to use the guideline of $810 per month as shelter is covered in the s.7 contribution to her university residence expense. Given, the Applicant's modest budget of $650 per month for living expenses and given that she could make some contribution of her own towards those expenses, the judge found that a monthly child support amount of $400 would be reasonable.