Deroo v. Szucsko 2009 – Retroactive Child Support

This case was heard in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice by Justice Vogelsang. The primary issue in this case was about child support, specifically regarding retroactive child support.

The parties were married in July, 1977 and according to Ms. Szucsko the parties separated on July 15, 1987. There are two children of the marriage, namely Rick and Lindsay. A divorce was granted on July 26, 1990 and Mr. Deroo was ordered to pay child support in the amount of $600.00 per month for Rick and $400.00 per month for Lindsay.

Mr. Deroo was granted with generous specified access as Ms. Szucsko claimed that Mr. Deroo lacked the ability to parent the children and therefore supervision was required. Ms. Szucsko also claimed that Mr. Deroo rarely showed up for access visits and over time access became more infrequent. She stated that as Mr. Deroo had no interest in seeing the children, there was no reason to contact him to discuss the children’s health or education etc. Mr. Deroo has had little to no contact with Lindsay since she was nine years old and finally spoke with Ricky about two years ago when Rick initiated the call.

Throughout this time however, Mr. Deroo continued to make child support payments.

The children are now grown adults. Justice Vogelslang stated that the onus rests on Ms. Szucsko to prove that Rick and Lindsay were still “children of the marriage” under the Divorce Act. Ms.Szucsko claimed that Rick was still dependent on her and that support should not end until he is established in a profession and given that Lindsay was continuing her education, she is still considered a child of the marriage.

Justice Vogelslang reviewed the evidence and determined that there was no basis for a retroactive claim for child support for the two children. There is no general parental obligation to support an adult child. Child support is for the children of the marriage and the children are grown adults. Ricky and Lindsay had both lost their status as “children of the marriage’” years ago. Justice Vogelslang stated that Rick ceased to be a child of the marriage after he graduated from High School in 2002 and subsequently began working. Although for a brief period of time Lindsay did have the status of the child of the marriage, Ms. Szucsko made no efforts to claim child support at that time and the time to make a claim for retroactive support had ended. Ms. Szucsko claimed that the delay was due to the lack of communication between the parties. She stated that she was not able to find Mr. Deroo. Justice Vogelslang disagreed.

It was held that “Ms.Szucsko was not able to overcome the presumption that the delay in seeking retroactive support was unjustifiable.” Justice Vogelslang noted the case of S. (D.B.) v. G. (S.R):

“Whether a payor parent is engaging in blameworthy conduct is a subjective question. But I would not deny that objective indicators remain helpful in determining whether a payor parent is blameworthy. For instance, the existence of a reasonably held belief that (s)he is meeting his/her support obligations may be a good indicator of whether or not the payor parent is engaging in blameworthy conduct.”

Justice Vogelslang stated that Mr. Deroo continued to pay child support for both of the children even after he believed that Rick was no longer entitled to same. Justice Vogelslang agreed and held that Mr. Deroo’s view to terminate child support was reasonable. Mr. Deroo’s support obligations were terminated as of October 31, 2009 and Ms.Szucsko’s claims for contributions to Rick’s tools to help him start a career as a licensed mechanic and Lindsay’s student loans were dismissed.

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