In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled a B.C. father must pay $23,000 in retroactive child support to his former common-law partner and child, even though the child is now 29 years old, CBC reports.
The couple were common-law spouses for four years, and had a child in 1991. After their separation, the child lived with the mother, and the father agreed to child support payments of about $340 a month based on his stated income of $40,000 a year.
When the child became an adult and support payments ended, the mother discovered that the father's income was actually higher than stated so she filed for retroactive support in the B.C. provincial court.
A judge ordered the father to pay the retroactive support, but he appealed, claiming that because the child is now an adult, it was too late to order back payment of child support. The B.C Supreme Court and the B.C. Court of Appeal agreed.
The mother subsequently filed an application to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, which was heard in November 2019.
The landmark decision opens the door to allow parents to change past child support orders, even in cases where the child is now an adult.