Recent Case: Retroactive Child Support and Imputing Income

Ogunware v Ganiyu, 2022 ONSC 5254

This is a trial court decision where the issues before the court were whether the father should pay retroactive child support to the mother to the date of separation and whether an income of $100,000 should be imputed to the father for child support.

The mother and father began cohabiting in 2002 and separated in 2017. There are three children from the relationship: an 18-year-old, a 14-year-old, and a 6-year-old. The mother is a nurse and earned $81,000 in 2020 and $125,000 in 2021 due to overtime pay she received. She alleged that the father was earning a substantial income rather than the $31,000 a year he claimed he was receiving working as a courier. The mother claimed he was receiving income from several businesses he ran in both Canada and Nigeria along with a car exporting business. He also spends three to five months in Nigeria annually.  

In arriving at its decision, the court considered s. 19(1) of the Child Support Guidelines stating that courts have the authority to impute income “as it considers appropriate in the circumstances”.

Based on the evidence the mother provided, the court found that the father paid no child support to the mother since separating from her in 2017 which had created financial hardship for her and the children and ultimately warranted him paying support. The judge felt that the $100,000 amount was justified on the following grounds:

  • The father had sufficient funds to spend a few months in Nigeria;
  • He had managed to pay back $60,000.00 of debt since separation, which the court found impossible given his claimed income amount;
  • He had failed to provide copies of his passport to confirm how often he travels to Nigeria annually;
  • The financial statement he filed did not disclose his income;
  • His declared gross income indicated a higher than alleged income; and
  • It was inconceivable that the father would have an annual income of $30,450 after working as a courier for a company for a quarter century.

The court also ordered retroactive payments to the date of separation as the judge felt that it would set an example to other payor parents not to avoid their child support obligations.