A Canadian judge ruled that a woman's ex-husband -- who is not the father of her child -- is not responsible for providing her with child support.
On March 14, the Vancouver Sun reported that a court in British Columbia had reached a verdict in a case revolving around a man, referred to as P. Z., and his ex-wife, referred to as E. Z. The presiding judge, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Robin Baird, was responsible for determining P. Z.'s child support responsibilities toward E.Z.'s child, referred to as D.
D was born in March 2009, after P. Z. and E. Z.had been married for three years. The couple, who then lived in Ontario, separated sometime during 2012. In June 2013, DNA lab results confirmed that P. Z. was not D's biological father, and the child was, in fact, the product of an affair between his mother and another man. It is unclear what prompted the couple to choose to undergo DNA testing.
At the couple's divorce hearing in an Ontario court in 2014, E. Z. confirmed that P. Z. was not D's biological father. Despite the case's judge making it clear that the paternity of the child would not necessarily exclude P. Z. from providing child support, E. Z. stated that she would not seek any child support. She moved to British Columbia later that year.
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However, in February of 2016, E. Z. filed for child support through the British Columbia court system, asserting that P. Z. had acted as D's father until the initial separation. In addition, she claimed that P. Z. had continued to have contact with the child until the divorce was finalized in 2014.
Normally, Canadian law regarding child support is very straightforward. According to Divorce-Canada, "both parents always remain legally obligated to financially support their children." This law exists under the assumption that "all children should continue to benefit from the financial means of both parents as if they were still together." Had P. Z. been D's biological father, it is all but certain that the court would have supported E.Z.'s request for child support.
However, the unique nature of P. Z.'s relationship with D made the case a bit more complicated. In contrast to his ex-wife, P. Z. claimed that he had not seen D since a few months after the 2012 separation, which would have been almost five years before the British Columbia case.
In addition, P. Z. claimed that the only reason he had acted as a father to D following his birth was because he had falsely believed the child to be his. P. Z.'s name did indeed appear on the child's birth certificate. P. Z. claimed that his willingness to act as a parent had been based on a "serious mistake of fact."
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In the end, Baird ended up ruling in P. Z.'s favor, citing the fact that P. Z. had only acted as D's father due to "a serious and fundamental misapprehension of fact." Baird claimed that the long estrangement between P. Z. and D had most likely severed any significant connection they might have previously formed. Baird also claimed it was unlikely that D had "formed any durable expectations" of P. Z., making it not "the least bit fair" to expect P. Z. to pay child support.