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Parental alienation may affect child support under family law

In contentious divorces, children can sometimes end up in the middle. While the emotional and personal costs of parental alienation is well-documented, people may not be aware that alienating an ex can also have financial consequences. Under British Columbia family law, payor parents who are alienated may have recourse in court.

Under family law, child support is governed by British Columbia provincial standards along with the Divorce Act and the Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines offer a default amount of child support in order to prevent disputes between parents. It is unusual for courts to deviate from the guidelines. However, cases of parental alienation may be an exception.

Judges can deviate from the guidelines in certain circumstances, such as if the child has special needs. Typically, a payor parent still must pay the primary caregiver child support even if the child will not talk to them. However, while courts will not punish a child by removing child support because of a parent's misconduct, they may consider alternatives to the usual payment system.

In past family law cases, alternatives have included  requiring payments to be made to the court or for specific bills like university tuition. This is designed to ensure that they go to the child rather than the alienating parent. Even if the child does not want a relationship with their payor parent, courts may consider how the payor can best support the child's direct needs when making a decision and offer different solutions. Those who are involved in a divorce or dispute involving parental alienation should speak with a British Columbia family lawyer about their options.

Source: Financial Post, "Alienating a former spouse may come with a cost in family court", Laurie H. Pawlitza, March 7, 2018

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