This case is about access to child support and retroactive reduction of support arrears under the Divorce Act.
The parties were married in 1983 and had two children together. They divorced in 1996, at which time a child support order was made under the Divorce Act. The child support obligations ended in 2012 when the children had grown up. Between 1996 and 2012, the payor parent, Mr. Colucci, made few payments, failed to disclose his income, and left Canada twice for extended periods of time without notifying the recipient parent, Mrs. Colucci, or the Family Responsibility Office overseeing his support. During this time period, Mr. Colucci’s child support arrears accumulated to more than $170,000.
In 2016, Mr. Colucci brought a motion to reduce his support arrears, which was granted by the motion judge. The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned that decision by applying the principles articulated in DBS v SRG, 2006 SCC 37 as adapted by Gray v Rizzi, 2016 ONCA 152. Mr. Colucci is appealing the Ontario Court of Appeal’s decision to the Supreme Court of Canada.
West Coast LEAF’s Involvement
West Coast LEAF has joined with LEAF to apply for leave to intervene in this case to highlight substantive equality as an important consideration in a child support analysis. Parents who receive child support, typically mothers, are systematically disadvantaged in terms of resources and access to information about the payor’s income. West Coast LEAF and LEAF intend to argue this power imbalance will continue to result in the chronic underpayment of child support and the feminization of poverty, unless payor incentives to conceal income or delay payments are eliminated.
West Coast LEAF and LEAF were granted leave to intervene jointly in this case at the Supreme Court of Canada. The hearing is tentatively set for November 2, 2020.