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    15 Mar 2017

    Woman loses bid for child support from ex-husband who was not father of her son

    A woman who concealed from her husband the fact that he was not the father of her son has lost her bid for child support from him.
    The couple had been married for three years when the son, only identified by the initial D in a court ruling, was born in March 2009.
    The husband, identified by the initials P.Z., took it for granted that he was the child’s natural father, but it turned out that the birth was apparently the result of a “dalliance” between his wife, identified as E.Z., and another man.
    In the ruling, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robin Baird said that it was not clear how or when the question of the child’s true parentage came up or what led the parties to agree to paternity testing.
    But the paternity issue was laid conclusively to rest in June 2013, a year following the couple’s separation, when DNA lab results confirmed that the respondent in the case, the husband was not the dad.
    “Not surprisingly, the respondent was crestfallen and felt upset and betrayed,” said the judge. “By this time, D was four years old.”
    The couple were living in Ontario prior to the divorce but after the September 2014 divorce, the wife moved to B.C., apparently to start a new life with a local man she had met on the Internet.
    At the divorce hearing, she admitted that her husband was not the child’s biological father and sought no child support, with the Ontario judge warning them that paternity was not necessarily determinative of child support obligations.
    After the woman moved to B.C., the husband heard nothing more from her until February 2016, when she filed for child support through the B.C. courts.
    She claimed he had acted as a parent to D during the brief interval between his birth and the breakdown of the marriage and alleged that her husband carried on as a parent until the time of the divorce.
    But the husband said he’d not had any contact with the boy since a few months after the separation, an assertion accepted by the judge. He conceded that he voluntarily assumed the role of parent but only on the basis of a “serious mistake of fact” that set aside his consent.
    In the ruling, Baird noted that there was no doubt that when D was born, the husband believed him to be his natural child, with his name appearing on the boy’s birth certificate and him caring and providing for D in every respect for a short time.
    “D would, of course, have considered the respondent to be his father, although they have now been estranged for longer than they lived together and his memories are bound to become vague and dim,” said the judge.
    “I doubt it could truly be said, given D’s tender years and the brevity of the connection between them, that the child formed any durable expectations of the respondent.”
    The judge, who noted that there was no evidence of who the real father was, concluded that while the husband had stood in as a parent, the “whole thing was based on a serious and fundamental misapprehension of fact.”
    It would not be in “the least bit fair” to order the husband to bear full responsibility for supporting the child, said Baird.
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