The court ordered retroactive support for a child that is 19 years old and no longer in school. (Photo: iStock)
Can a court order a parent to pay retroactive child support if the child is now an independent adult?
Retroactive child support provides money to a child that should have been previously paid by the parent at fault. It can also be ordered in cases where the parent didn’t pay enough support for a period of time.
The parent receiving the support has to bring an application while the child is still a minor and eligible to receive child support.
There’s always the exception of course: in this Ontario Court of Justice case, the court ordered retroactive support for a child that is 19 years old and no longer in school.
Here, the father started paying child support in 2011, for three minor children but he paid less than the Child Support Guidelines required. He stopped paying support in late 2014, and the mother brought an application for retroactive child support for all three children, including for previous years in which he wasn’t paying enough.
Often, courts will look at the following factors when determining whether retroactive child support is reasonable:
- Whether the recipient spouse has provided a reasonable excuse for his or her delay in applying for support;
- The conduct of the payor parent;
- The circumstances of the child;
- The hardship that the retroactive award may entail.
It also had to be decided whether an exception should be made to allow retroactive support to be paid for the oldest, despite being ineligible.
The court decided that they would make an exception in this case.
The decision was based on several factors. A recognized oral agreement was in place for years that spelled out that support was to be paid for all three children.
Also, the father displayed bad conduct towards the mother in trying to control and intimidate her by reporting her to the authorities for no good reason. He also failed to let her know that his income has increased, which the court thought to be “blameworthy conduct”.
Two of the children were eligible for ongoing support and it made sense to include the third as well and the court thought that the retroactive payments could actually help the oldest go back to school.
The court concluded by saying it hoped the father would improve his behaviour.