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Dad Sues For Repayment of Support
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The Montreal Gazette
[The National Post]
Saturday, March 30, 2002
Ex sued over lover's child
[Police love-triangle leads to child support lawsuit
Ex-husband seeks to recoup payments for girl who is not his]
by George Kalogerakis
One Montreal police officer is suing a second - his ex-wife - after she
had an affair and a child with a third officer but is making the first one
pay child support.
For six years, the first officer believed the girl was his until a DNA
test proved otherwise. He is seeking $150,000 from his ex so every dollar
he pays in child support will be recovered through the lawsuit.
Though the child is not his, Canada's laws can oblige him to pay support.
"The law needs some fine-tuning," said James Murphy, the lawyer for the
first police officer. "This is a terrible situation."
Though all sides refused to comment, a peek at court files tells their story.
The Montreal cops cannot be named because it is a family-court matter.
Fictitious names are used instead.
Jean and Joanne are in their late 30s. They married in the mid-1980s and
had a daughter named Chantal in 1990.
The couple divorced a few years later, and agreed to share Chantal on
alternate weeks. Since both made the same $50,000 salary, neither paid the
other child support. But by 1995, Jean was seeing his daughter a lot less,
only two weekends out of five.
He had met another woman, with whom he had a child. Jean wanted to spend
some time with his new family, and felt Chantal didn't want to be with him
because she kept crying for her mother.
So Joanne filed for child support since she had become the main caregiver.
Bitter that Jean wasn't helping more with expenses, she asked for $248 a
week, about $125 after taxes.
"He listens only to his wallet when I ask him to assume his financial
obligations," one of her court papers said.
The request went to mediation, and Jean brought up a comment Joanne
made during an argument years earlier.
She had blurted out Chantal was not his before recanting her words.
The two agreed to a DNA test. If it was found Jean was not the father,
he wouldn't have to pay anything.
The test proved exactly that, and the demand for child support was
dropped. Another test found Joanne's former lover, a cop named Pierre,
was the real father.
Pierre and Joanne started seeing each other again, and he paid for outings
and food for his child. Pierre was older and had children from a previous
But Jean was still in the picture, seeing Chantal sometimes, though he
felt Pierre was taking over his role.
"She had a dad and brothers," Jean said in court papers. "She was becoming
attached to her real father and, little by little, didn't want to come to
my home. She cried when I went to get her."
By 1997, Jean had stopped contact.
Four years passed, and Chantal grew into an 11-year-old.
Her mother and Pierre had broken up, and the child was no longer seeing
her real father.
Chantal was suffering, feeling guilt and fearful of being abandoned
because of all the changes in her life, a psychologist said.
The girl can't express anger because she is worried the adults in her life
would stop loving her.
Last year, Joanne went to court and asked Jean - not Pierre - for child
support. Both are now making $70,000 a year on the police force.
Jean called Pierre, by then retired from the force, and asked him to
assume his responsibilities. Pierre consulted a lawyer before saying he
didn't want to get involved.
The law puts Jean at a disadvantage for a number of reasons.
First, he is still named as father on the birth certificate. Quebec's
civil code gave him a year after learning he was not Chantal's father to
remove his name. After that, the certificate is unassailable.
Jean didn't change the certificate, he said, because his ex-wife assured
him at the time he was off the hook.
A 1998 Supreme Court ruling also hurt Jean's chances. Canada's top court
said stepparents can be forced to support a child if they acted as parents
for long enough.
Jean never got a chance to fight his ex-wife's demand for child support.
A hearing was set for December 2001, but Jean's lawyer didn't attend
because he thought it was set for January.
Joanne won $325 a month by default.
Jean's lawyer alleges he was purposely given the wrong court date by
Her side denies that.
The court fight continues. Jean went to the Quebec Court of Appeal over
the scheduling error, asking for a second chance to tell his side of the story.
And he filed the $150,000 lawsuit in February.
The suit says Jean realizes the birth certificate cannot be changed now.
He blames it all on Joanne's "lies and fraudulent misrepresentations."
He wants her to reimburse him the $100,000 it will cost to pay Chantal's
child support until she is an adult and an extra $50,000 in moral damages.
- George Kalogerakis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Copyright 2002 Montreal Gazette
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