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The Supreme Court of Canada rules that support-paying parents
should be reporting increases in income to the support-receiving parent

On December 155, 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a ruling that divorced parents must disclose increases in their income or face the possibility of sizeable retroactive child-support orders. The Supreme Court stopped short of ordering a duty to disclose salary increases automatically, but the judges signaled that paying parents should do so as a matter of course because children of divorce have a right to a share of an income hike.

"Parents have an obligation to support their children in a manner commensurate with their income, and this obligation and the children's right to support exists independently of any statute or court order," Mr. Justice Michel Bastarache wrote.

The current practice is for recipient parents to go to court to seek increases in child support. The new ruling sets out guidelines for judges on when retroactive payments may be ordered, taking into account such factors as the degree of hardship for the paying parent, his or her "blameworthiness" in dodging increases in child support over the years and whether the extra amount would make much difference in the lives of the children.

The court said retroactive payments can be back-dated to the time when a recipient parent first notified the paying parent of the intention to seek an increase, even informally.

The ruling also set three years as a general rule for the amount of retroactive support payable.

Click here to read the entire decision

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Last updated on July 15, 2017