Child & Spousal Support
Can a Parent Be Considered Intentionally Underemployed?
October 26, 2021
Paternity refers to a legal declaration as to the father of a child. The issue generally becomes a concern in a dispute over child support obligations, when the person identified as the father denies the obligation on the basis of paternity. Conversely, a non-biological father may wish to establish paternity in order to secure their right to parenting time with their child.
At Long Shariff & Associates our family lawyers understand that this can be a delicate area of family law, and we regularly represent clients on each side of this issue. Whether you are looking to establish paternity or feel you have unfairly had support obligations imposed against you, we will work hard to help you understand your rights and resolve your matter.
Sometimes it becomes necessary to make a legal presumption of paternity for the purposes of creating an obligation for child support. This commonly occurs in situations where the likely father refuses to submit to a DNA test to determine a child’s parentage. However, it can also occur in cases where there is no biological connection between the father and child. Ontario’s Family Law Act recognizes the need to impose a child support obligation on a person who had demonstrated an intention to treat a minor as a child, with limited exceptions.
Under the Children’s Law Reform Act, there are specific criteria set out to guide a court with respect to when a presumption of paternity is appropriate. Those criteria are:
Parents of a child can opt to create a paternity agreement to clarify each person’s rights and obligations with respect to child support, as well as parenting time and decision-making ability. This can be especially helpful to protect the rights of a non-biological parent with respect to parenting arrangements or to acknowledge a non-biological parent’s obligation to pay support.
Once an agreement is in place, it can be used as the basis to enforce the various rights and obligations addressed within the agreement. It clarifies each party’s intentions, allowing them to avoid potentially time-consuming and costly litigation in the future, should a dispute arise.
To ensure the agreement will survive potential judicial scrutiny, the agreement should be carefully drafted by a skilled family lawyer. As well, both parties should be sure to obtain independent legal advice prior to signing the agreement.
The compassionate lawyers at Long Shariff & Associates work with clients on each side of a paternity dispute. We help clients enforce child support obligations, as well as their right to parenting time with a child if paternity is in question. We will also help to set out each party’s intentions in a skillfully drafted paternity agreement to ensure each person is on the same page and avoid future conflict. To review your matter with a member of our team, please reach out to us online, or call us at 905-591-4545.