A conviction for sexually abusing your granddaughter is not an acceptable reason to reduce your monthly child support payments, a B.C. judge has ruled.
In a disturbing case recently heard in Port Coquitlam’s provincial court, Judge Thomas Woods said a local father had no one but himself to blame for his trouble finding work after he was convicted of sexual interference involving his young granddaughter.
On the one hand, the man didn’t try very hard to find new work so that he could keep up with his child support, the judge said. On the other, a criminal conviction does not justify reducing those payments.
“As a man of ordinary competence and experience, Father C was at all material times able to foresee what were the natural consequences of his own acts,” Woods wrote. Both parents are referred to by their first initials in court documents.
In other words, the dad should have known when he inappropriately touched a little girl that he might become the subject of a police investigation, which could in turn lead to charges and a criminal conviction.
The job troubles he experienced, then, “were natural consequences of his sexual interference with his granddaughter,” Woods wrote. “Father C foresaw those consequences before commencing that sexual interference, rendering his consequent unemployment and underemployment ‘intentional.'”
Marriage ended with child sex charge
According to the court judgment, the couple separated in October 2014 after the father was charged with sexual interference. The victim was the young child of their adult daughter.
The ex-couple’s youngest child is now 16, and the mother cares for him full time. The teen has cerebral palsy, dystonia and a hearing impairment and is on the autism spectrum.
But despite the fact the mother is unable to work outside the home, her ex paid absolutely nothing in child support for three years after the breakup. About a year ago, he made his first voluntary payment, for a meagre $50.
That’s when the province’s Family Maintenance Enforcement Program stepped in and began garnishing the father’s wages. He has since paid off the outstanding $15,000, thanks to gifts of cash from his family, according to the decision.
Before he was arrested, the father held down two jobs — one as an IT technician for an electronics store, the other in a music-related position at a local church.
The church fired him as soon as the leadership learned about the criminal charges, but the store kept him on for months, only letting him go in November 2015 in response to a social media campaign, according to the judgment.
For almost a year after that, the dad seemed willing to “coast” on his severance pay and employment insurance, doing little to find work in either IT or music, the judge said.
Finally, he found a job at a fast food restaurant, where he earned little more than minimum wage.
In the meantime, he’d been ordered by the courts to pay $413 a month in child support. The father tried to argue that was too much to pay on his small income.
‘He seems content now to limp along’
But the judge rejected that suggestion, offering not just one but two alternative reasons for his decision.
The first is that the father didn’t make much of an effort to find a better job.
“He seems content now to limp along in an almost entry-level position, generating a paltry income by comparison to what he was earning before,” Woods wrote.
“He further asks the court to visit upon [his son]the diminished lifestyle implications that result from those greatly reduced earnings. In this … I find that Father C asks entirely too much.”
But secondly, the dad should have known he might have trouble keeping a job after sexually abusing a child, and yet he “pressed ahead anyway,” the judge said.
Woods also increased the father’s mandatory monthly payments from $413 to $425, explaining that federal child support guidelines have changed.
Source: CBC NEWS