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Court Exempts Man From Supporting Child Of Adultery

Biology and behaviour are two key determining factors for child support obligations. Father a child or step into the role of parent and upon separation, a court may order an individual to share financially in raising the child. In one recent decision, an Ontario man was absolved of responsibility despite assuming a fatherly role for a child he later discovered was not his own. It’s a case that could spark lively discussion on the complexity of finding the optimal intersection between an adult’s financial obligations and the best interests of children of divorce.

Undeceived Of The Facts

In 2009, three years into the marriage, husband PZ and wife EZ, welcomed baby D into their lives. Not knowing that the child was the fruitage of an extramarital affair, PZ raised D as his own for the next three years.

In 2012, the relationship was on the rocks and the couple separated. How the issue of parentage came up remains a mystery, but in June 2013, DNA testing revealed that EZ was not D’s biological father. According to EZ, his relationship with the child ceased within months of the separation.

The couple divorced in 2014 and PZ made no attempt to seek child support payments. Only after the woman moved to B.C. did she revisit the issue and apply to the B.C. courts to make EZ pay up.

“A serious and fundamental misapprehension of fact”

After reviewing the case, that’s how the judge described the basis for EZ’s stepping into his role as father. At the time, EZ had no reason to believe that D was not his natural child. Had he known the truth, the man may not have consented to assuming responsibility.

In Canada, the best interest of children is the governing principle in custody and support matters. Yet, despite the three years that EZ acted as father, the judge observed that the duration and connection was brief enough that baby D would not likely have “formed any durable expectations of the respondent.”

The judge concluded that under the circumstances, ordering financial responsibility on EZ would not be in “the least bit fair”.

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