Child support laws discriminate against fathers, Montreal lawsuit claims
Federal Court in Montreal asked to strike down formula that violates Charter guarantee of equality and does not preserve child support for children
December 24, 2002 - MONTREAL - The federal government's Child Support Guidelines are biased against fathers and violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, claims a major lawsuit filed against the government in Federal Court yesterday.
The lawsuit, A.B. and G.H. v. Her Majesty the Queen, exposes the unfair formula that the Federal Government developed to determine child support payments - a formula that is not based on the true cost of raising children. The lawsuit shows how Canada's Child Support Guidelines mandate a massive transfer of wealth from men to women for no demonstrable purpose. The wealth transfer is not related to child support and could only be described as extra alimony. But the lawsuit asserts that the federal government cannot use the child support rules to pad alimony payments.
The lawsuit also challenges the rules that remove paying parents - usually fathers - from any financial decision-making for the children. By doing so, the Child Support Guidelines interfere with the parent-child relationship.
The statement of claim highlights at least seven significant flaws in the current Divorce Act:
1. It arbitrarily requires men (in 90% of the cases) to make payments to their former spouses, using a formula that is not based on the needs of the children - this violates the Charter;
2. It does not require the child support payments to be accounted for or in fact spent on the children - this deprives children of financial security;
3. It establishes a new tax, a tax on being divorced and a father – and directs the tax revenues to a former spouse, not the children;
4. It violates the Constitutional separation of powers between Parliament and the judiciary by delegating to the courts the power to set taxes;
5. It violates the Constitutional division of powers between the federal government and the provinces by interfering with the property and civil rights of men for a purpose unrelated to divorce and child support;
6. It violates the guarantees of equality in the Bill of Rights and the Charter, which require federal laws to treat married parents and divorced parents the same in relation to the support of their adult children;
7. It violates the right to property guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.
The lawsuit asks the Federal Court to strike down the current child support formula, and replace it with a fair, economically-sound system that respects fathers' role as parents, too.
"The child support provisions of the Divorce Act are unfair," said Gerald Chipeur, legal counsel for the Plaintiffs. "This lawsuit claims that Canada's child support regime does not meet its objective: to fairly calculate and distribute the cost of raising children. Instead, it turns child support into another 'battle of the sexes.' That's wrong."
Chipeur noted that the Province of Quebec is the only province to have its own child support guidelines, and that they are much more fair than Ottawa's. "Quebec's guidelines take into account many important factors that the federal guidelines ignore," said Chipeur.
Please contact Gerald Chipeur at (403) 863-6539, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a copy of the lawsuit and other information, visit