The Implications for Child Support…

June 28th, 2012 by

The Implications for Child Support of Social Networking, Anonymous Gamete Donation, the Immigration Process and Step Parenting

A previous blog (Can Your Ex Spouse Ask for Child Support) discussed how a non-biological parent can be liable for child support, perhaps even owing as much child support as biological parent.  The Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision is S.S. v. P.S. (available here), illustrates how that can happen and how a parent can end up paying full child support for non-biological children.  It also held that when a parent has children using donated gametes, subsequent partners can be on the hook for the full table amount of child support because there is no biological parent with whom to share the child support obligation.

In the S.S. case, the wife, who lived in Mexico, had twins using sperm from an anonymous donor.  She subsequently met the husband, who was from Alberta.  After a short courtship, the husband and wife were married.  The husband sponsored the wife and the children to immigrate to Canada.  The couple subsequently had another child together.  The husband referred to all three children as “his children” on social networking websites (presumably Facebook).  The marriage broke down after only two years.  The wife claimed child support for all three children.  The husband agreed to pay support for only his biological child.  The wife refused to allow the husband access to any of the children and returned to Mexico.

The Alberta Court of Appeal held that since the husband stood in the place of a parent to his “step children” because he:

(a)                 had referred to his “step children” as “my children” on the social networking sites,

(b)               had sponsored their immigration to Canada, which included an undertaking to be financially responsible for them while they are in Canada, and

(c)                sought access to them after separation,

Further, as there was no known biological parent for the step children, the Court of Appeal said there was no basis on which it could reduce the husband’s child support below the full table amount, even though the marriage lasted only two years and the husband had been involved with the step children for less than half of their young lives.

The S.S. case is a cautionary tale regarding how non-biological parents can very quickly, and without intending to do so, make themselves liable for same amount of amount of child support as a biological parent.

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