Child Support Rebate for High Income Earner

D.M.D. v R.L.D. 2015 BCSC 2332

High Income Earner is rebated significant child support in case of natural child and step-parent support. See winning decision at 2015 BCSC 2332.

The case involved the determination of income of a high-income medical professional — a specialized surgeon and his former wife, who was also trained in the medical field but had chosen not to work during the marriage or in the five years since separation. The doctor did not dispute that he had high income for the period between 2010 and 2014. In fact, the parties filed a joint expert report that established that his adjusted Section 18 income for the years 2010 to 2013 was between 2.3 million and 3.2 million. The doctor argued that his income for 2014 was in the neighbourhood of 2 million and the court agreed. Likewise, for 2015, the doctor argued that his income would be in the range of $400,000.00 and the court agreed. The doctor sought to impute income to his former wife and the court generally accepted his arguments that, by 2015 and going forward, her income would be $115,000.00 per year.

The above income findings were imposed upon unique facts including that the parties had a biological child that, post-separation, was in a shared, week-on, week-off arrangement before the child voted with her feet in mid-July 2013 to live exclusively with her father, the doctor. As well, the parties had a step-child that, post-separation, lived in a shared parenting relationship with his mother and biological father. That child did not have an ongoing relationship with the doctor. As a step-child was involved, four sections of the Child Support Guidelines were considered:

  1. Section 1 being the over-arching general principles;
  2. Section 3 being the section that determines the Table amounts are presumptive;
  3. Section 4 that allows courts discretion where the payer’s income is above $150,000.00; and
  4. Section 5 that deals with the principles involved in step-parent child support.

The Family Law Act (FLA) sections are similar to the above provisions. In fact, it appears as if the FLA adopted much of the reasoning of the cases that developed under the Divorce Act.

The court, after noting that the doctor pursuant to two prior court orders had paid significant child support on the basis that the orders were without prejudice, then determined what child support should have been paid for the period of time that the natural child was in the joint care of the parties, and after that date, the amount of monthly child due to the step-parent. The court found that the appropriate child support for both the natural child and the step-child was $9,000 per month. And, after the natural child began to live with the doctor, the step-parent child support was $1,500.00 per month.

Given that the doctor had been paying $15,000 a month for a lengthy period of time, the doctor received considerable rebate for child support paid. Additionally, the mother will have the obligation to pay basic child support for the biological child on her imputed income.

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