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Taking advantage of collaborative law may have helped single mom

A popular phrase holds that he (or she) who hesitates is lost. The opportunity to negotiate a family law settlement might also be lost if one doesn't seize the moment at the right time. A single mom in British Columbia may never know if she missed her chance to try to win child support years ago through collaborative law, or other means, after a recent effort came up short.

Eight years ago, a husband and wife in Ontario welcomed a son into their lives, after three years of marriage. During 2012, the couple separated for undisclosed reasons, but the following year a DNA test revealed the child was not the husband's own. During a divorce hearing in 2014, the mother admitted the boy was not his.

Despite the admission, the judge made plain that paternity was not necessarily a requirement for child support. However, the woman declined to seek support at that time. Later in the year, she and the boy moved to B.C. and severed ties with the man, who remained behind.

In Feb. 2016, the woman decided to file for child support in a British Columbia court. She based her claim on the fact her ex-husband had acted as the child's father from the baby's birth up until the divorce finalized. In most cases, this would be sufficient grounds to award support. However, because the man was acting under false pretenses, the judge ruled he was not obligated to pay support.

Had the woman taken the opportunity to pursue support back in 2014, things may have worked out differently. The answers to complex family law questions are not always clear, and it may be helpful to confer with a knowledgeable lawyer before making a decision. A lawyer with a family law firm can help with all issues pertaining to collaborative law and other options available to a person in a time of need.

Source: opposingviews.com, "Woman's Ex-Husband Not Responsible For Child Support", Simone Stover, March 14, 2017

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