British Columbia

Unemployed dental assistant loses $14K child support claim

The B.C. Supreme Court has rejected a mother's claim for $14,000 in monthly child support from her ex-husband, because she hadn't looked for work in nearly five years.

Dentist was ordered by judge to pay $1,500 in monthly step-child support, instead of $14K mother seeking

A B.C. Supreme Court justice has rejected a mother's claim for $14,000 in monthly child support from her ex-husband, because she hadn't looked for work in the nearly five years since the couple separated.

The case was brought forward by the ex-husband who claimed he had overpaid child-support and should no longer have to pay any support for a step-son with whom he has little to no contact.

The ex-husband is an oral surgeon who until recently earned more than $2 million a year. Court documents show he was able to earn the extraordinary amount by working up to 12 hours a day, while volunteering to be on call 365 days a year.

The couple's identities are not revealed in the documents, but their history is laid bare.

They met at work, where the woman was a dental assistant and the man was an oral surgeon — and were married for less than 10 years. 

The woman described the couple's lifestyle as "lavish", with many vacations, luxury vehicles and no budget.

The woman had a child before the couple met — she shares custody with that child's father — and the couple had one child during their marriage. And that's where it gets a bit complicated.

Mother a millionaire

The couple's child lives with the father full-time, and the mother was seeking support for the step-child. But the court heard evidence that the mother didn't want the child to see the step-father.

The court also rejected the mother's claim that she couldn't afford to provide the same lifestyle her children enjoyed during the marriage.

Justice Linda Loo noted the couple did not spend "lavishly" on the children during their marriage, and rejected the mother's concerns about the son's wish for a mountain bike costing $8,000 to $12,000, noting not all children's wants are reasonable.

The judge noted the mother — despite having no child to look after for half of her time — has not looked for meaningful work, choosing instead to rely on a $1.7 million settlement she received in the divorce, and income from investments.

Deciding she should have returned to work by now, the judge decided the mother is capable of earning a $55,000 salary — and another $60,000 from investments.

Dentist scales back

Meanwhile the oral surgeon in the case had scaled back work to just six days a month, but anticipated a salary of as much as half a million dollars a year in future.

And so the judge decided that even though he has no parenting time, and little contact with his teenage step-child, he still must pay $1,500 a month in child support, until the step-child turns 19.

But that will be mostly offset by the judge's order that the mother pay support to the father for the child they had while married.

And the judge also suggested that if the mother is having trouble spending the same amount of money on her son as when she was married, it has nothing to do with child support, but rather her legal fees, which she claimed were $33,400 per month.