Retroactive spousal and child support claims. Don’t wait. It could cost you.

Past and Future

If you think you have a family law claim against your ex-spouse for past financial support, whether that money was for yourself or your children, don’t wait to get legal advice; do it now.

In the recent case of Boekhoff v. Boekhoff, 2016 BCCA 33, the 13-year delay by Ms. Boekhoff in pursuing Mr. Boekhoff for claimed spousal support arrears probably left Ms. Boekhoff worse off than when she started.

Delay can act as waiver of support arrears

The BC Court of Appeal upheld the lower court Judge’s decision that the delay in taking steps to pursue what Ms. Boekhoff said was owing acted as a form of ‘waiver’ to getting the support arrears paid back. The trial Judge did however re-impose a past $800/month support obligation on Mr. Boekhoff, but only from September 1, 2014 forward. The Appeal Court stepped in on this issue too and reduced Ms. Bekhoff’s recovery by lowering the $800/month amount to $424/month. Ms. Boekhoff was then also ordered to repay Mr. Boekhoff his costs of the main appeal as she was not successful.

While I have not engaged in a formal mathematical calculation, Ms. Boekhoff’s counsel was looking for about $99,000 in past support arrears and $800/month going forward. Ms. Boekhoff’s recovery ended up being $424/month from September 2014 forward, or about $6700 to the date of the Appeal Court’s decision. One suspects that the cost of paying her own lawyer, when combined with paying for part of Mr. Boekhoff’s legal fees, Ms. Boekhoff’s net recovery in this case was likely a negative number.

If you think you have a support claim get legal advice early

The lesson to be learned here is simple. Get family law advice and get that advice in a timely way. Sitting back on a potential family law claim against your ex-spouse could end up costing you more than what the claim may be worth. So, if any of Ms. Boekhoff’s story resonates with you, or you think that you have a possible family law claim against a former partner, the best advice is to get some timely legal advice. Contact any of the lawyers at the Watson Goepel Family Law Group and we would be glad to review your situation with you.

Click the case title for the full text of the Court of Appeal decision in Boekhoff v. Boekhoff