An Ontario father recently took a rather creative path in trying to enforce child support payments from his former spouse. As an alternative to going to court to enforce child support payments, he filed a claim with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (The Tribunal).

Whether to hear the claim

The Tribunal’s analysis began with whether it should dismiss the claim. At the preliminary stage, which the claim was at, it could only be dismissed “’if it is plain and obvious ‘on the face of the application that it does not fall within the Tribunal’s jurisdiction.” The Tribunal cited one of its decisions from 2008 in which an applicant for a job claimed he was discriminated against on the basis of age when he was not hired as a nuclear operator. The employer’s response was that it was governed federally for matters of human rights.

In the case at hand, the relationship between the two parties was one of husband and wife. The Tribunal wrote that its jurisdiction is based on the Human Rights Code (The “Code”), which outlines which grounds of discrimination are prohibited. The Tribunal wrote, “The Tribunal does not have a general power to inquire into all relationships and all difficulties that may occur in those relationships. The Tribunal’s jurisdiction is based on the Code, which prohibits discrimination in the social areas of ‘employment’, ‘goods, services and facilities’, ‘accommodation’ (housing), ‘contracts’ and ‘membership in vocational associations’.”

Relationships between spouses

The relationship between a husband and a wife was determined to have not been a relationship covered by the code in a 2009 Tribunal decision. In that decision, the Tribunal wrote “the Tribunal’s jurisdiction is based on the provisions of the Code. The personal relationship between the applicant and (the respondent) is not covered by the Code, and therefore the Tribunal does not have the power to decide the allegations against (the respondent).”

While the husband’s attempt at claiming discrimination in the social area of a contract was an interesting way to approach the problem, the Tribunal dismissed the application because

“The Application and the (husband’s) submissions deal with allegations of unfairness in the enforceability of child support payments. However, the materials provided by the applicant fail to point to any connection between this treatment and any social area covered by the Code.

“The personal relationship between the applicant and his former spouse is not covered by the Code. I therefore find that it is plain and obvious that the Tribunal does not have the power to decide the allegations against her.”

The family law lawyers at Borden Family Law are available to help you through all stages of separation and divorce, including matters related to spousal support. Our in-depth knowledge of family law allows us to give our clients reassurance that their best interests are being represented throughout what can often be a stressful experience. Please call us at 905-576-6090 or reach us online to talk today. Please remember to ask about our flat rates.