Recent case law: Child support jurisdiction

In the case of Navarro v Parrish, 2014 ONSC 3222, the mother brought an application for child support in Ontario, where she lives with the child. The father lives in Florida. The father brought a motion contesting the jurisdiction of the Ontario court to hear the application.

The father argued that because he and the mother had entered into a Marital Separation Agreement at the time of their separation in Florida which specified that the laws of Florida would govern the provisions of the agreement, any subsequent court proceeding had to take place in Florida.

The mother argued that the separation agreement contained no reference to child support, the only issue in question now, because at the time of separation she did not know she was pregnant. She returned to Canada, where she gave birth to the child several months later.

It appears the father had no relationship with the child, but had paid some small amounts of support sporadically over the years.

After reviewing the Family Law Act and the Interjurisdictional Support Orders Act as well as a considerable body of case law, Justice Gray concluded that the Ontario court had jurisdiction to hear the mother’s claim for child support:

The ordinary residence of the child, in Ontario, is a sufficient connecting factor to ground jurisdiction in Ontario. The child has resided in Ontario since his birth. The respondent [father] is connected to the jurisdiction, Ontario, through his child. The issue of support for that child is most closely connected to his needs and requirements where he lives, in Ontario. The courts in Ontario are best equipped to make a determination of the issue based on the respondent’s income and the child’s needs. The child will be attending university shortly, which may give rise to a need for a contribution to section 7 expenses. . . . the onus is on the respondent to show that another jurisdiction is clearly more convenient than Ontario for the litigation of this claim. In my view, the respondent has not done so. There is no compelling evidence that conducting the proceedings in Florida would be less expensive or faster than conducting the proceedings here. The agreement made in Florida does not deal with the issue of child support. Thus, there is no agreement that specifies the applicable law as it relates to this dispute.

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