Retroactive Child Support: Benefits and Burdens

Introduction

The Supreme Court of Canada's 2006 decision in four cases[1] dealing with retroactive child support has been widely referred to by courts across Canada. It seems fair to say that the test articulated by the Supreme Court in SRG for considering whether retroactive child support should be ordered, and if so, for what period and in what quantum, continues to be the subject of interpretation and commentary.

The following work aims to describe what is at issue in retroactive support claims, the approach that Mr. Justice Bastarache outlined in the majority decision, and the points of departure articulated in the concurring minority decision written by Justice Abella. The author attempts to "unpack the analysis" within the case, and to highlight complexities arising from the decision, as articulated both in subsequent cases and by various authors and family law practitioners.[2] Finally, the paper will close with a list of tips for lawyers dealing with child support cases.


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