Case law: Child support variation requires material change in circumstances

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In the case of, Boudreau v Boudreau 2014 Carswell Sask 665, Mr. and Mrs. Boudreau were married in Nova Scotia and lived there until they separated. They had one child together, and the wife’s child from a previous relationship also lived with them and was adopted by Mr. Beaudreau.

When the parties separated, the father consented to the mother and the children moving to Alberta because she had found full-time employment there. This consent was incorporated into a separation agreement that also set the amount of child support to be paid for the child of the marriage at $75/month. This amount was much lower than the Child Support Guidelines amount, but the parties agreed that this was to compensate for the high costs to the father of exercising access because he lived in Nova Scotia and the child lived in Alberta.

The agreement did not include any child support for the older child, even though that child had been adopted by Mr. Beaudreau.

This agreement was incorporated into a court order.

Some time later the mother moved from Alberta to Saskatchewan, at which time her income dropped significantly. She brought a motion to increase the amount of child support for the younger child and to start child support for the older child.

Justice Elson of the Court of Queen’s Bench for Saskatchewan denied the mother’s motion. Because the child support arrangement had been made outside the Guidelines and because it was incorporated into a court order, the mother would have had to show a material change in the father’s circumstances to be successful. Justice Elson found that the only circumstances that had changed were the mother’s and that the mother was responsible for those changes.