Proulx v. Proulx: Saying “I do” to Child Support

The parties in this case had two children together and the wife had two children from a previous marriage. A major issue in this case was whether the husband stood in the place of a parent to the two older children, and, if so, how his child support payments should be calculated in light of this assumed parental role.

The husband claimed that he did not stand in the place of a parent for these two children, and thus had no obligation to support them, because of the short length of the marriage (from 2002 to 2005) and because he was not permitted to discipline them or to participate extensively in their schooling and health care.

The wife claimed that the husband did assume the role of a parent because he participated in several recreational activities with them, encouraged them to spend time with his extended family, insisted that they assume his last name, asked them to call him ‘Daddy’, referred to them as his children, and displaced the role of their biological father. In addition, he stated as much in his wedding vows:

“In front of these witnesses, I, Christian, choose you Aimee to be my lawful wedded wife and you Samantha and Rachael to be my family. I promise to honour and respect you, and to provide for you to the best of my ability.”

Justice Taliano took the husband’s wedding vows into account when determining that the husband did assume the role of a parent.

Determining the amount of child support payable was complicated because the husband had a son from a previous marriage, for whom he was not paying support, and because the biological father of the two eldest children was paying support for them. In taking into account the biological father’s support payments, the shortness of the marriage, and the husband’s financial responsibility to these children, support was awarded for the husband’s two biological children plus half of the difference between support payable for two children and support payable for four children.

This case encourages fiancés to carefully consider the wording of their marriage vows, as these words may be used against them in a court of law

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