Recent news stories have revealed that the popular social media platform, Facebook, had shared user information with a data firm, which then sold the data to its clients. The news made people aware that the personal information they upload to social media sites may not always been kept in their control. However, uploading the information is in the user’s control, and as one father learned in a recent case before the Ontario Court of Justice, data firms aren’t the only ones who may find social media information useful.

A dispute in income earned

The mother and father in the case lived together from April 2011 to May 2012. While together the couple had a child who by 2015 was three-years old. After separating and moving apart from each other the couple made some attempts to reconcile their relationship. However, by December 22, 2013 they separated for the last time. At that time the mother was granted custody of their child. The father was also ordered to make monthly child support payments of $193 based on an imputed income of $22,800 per year. The mother was attending college at the time of the hearing and supported her and their child through student loans.

The purpose of the hearing was to address the mother’s request for the court to impute the father’s income at $45,000 per year and to change his support obligations to $406 per month. The father claimed he could not afford to pay an increased amount of child support and that he was unemployed and supporting himself on social assistance.

The mother testified that while they lived together the father made between $40,000-$45,000 per year working in construction. She claimed that in addition to his reported income, he also earned significant cash income under the table. The mother also testified that the father manipulated bank accounts in order to show he had no assets, allowing him to obtain benefits from social assistance and avoid creditors. During her testimony the mother provided evidence from the father’s Facebook profile in the form of photos showing him on recent trips to New York and Ecuador as well as his attendance at sports events and nightclubs.

The father testified that he last worked in June 2014 and at the time of the trial was on social assistance while also receiving support from his parents and girlfriend. Not only could he not afford to pay $400 per month he said, he was also struggling to pay $200 per month. He said his plan was to return to school to learn how to be a computer technician.

The father provided income tax statements showing his income in 2014 to have been $31,175, up from $20,340 in 2013. He also admitted to earning between $2,000-$3,000 in cash annually.

Findings of credibility

The court described the mother as a very credible witness, stating she provided considerable detail about the father’s work history and how he conducted his financial affairs. The court’s opinion of the father was not as positive. The court found him to not be a credible witness as a result of vague answers about his work history and financial affairs. He had also failed to provide a full financial disclosure, ordered five months before the trial. Some of the information he failed to provide were income tax returns, a record of employment from his previous employer, a letter showing he had been unable to work, as well as his bank and credit card statements for the 12 months pre-dating the trial. He claimed he forgot his financial records at home, and that the union refused to provide his record of employment as a result of his being behind on union dues. The court also determined the father was attempting to avoid the detection of creditors by not opening a bank account in his own name.

The father also acknowledged that the Facebook posts shared by the mother were authentic. However, he claimed that his friends and family paid for all of the trips, as well as the sporting events and nights out. The court did not believe this, stating, “All of this evidence corroborated the mother’s testimony that the father manipulates whatever system he can to obtain money.”

The court ultimately found the father to have earned an annual income of $40,00-$45,000 and that he was leading a lifestyle commensurate with such an income. The court, finding the mother’s request for an increase in child support to be reasonable, increased support requirements to reflect an income of $42,500 retroactive to January 1, 2014.

It can be difficult to sort out child support obligations, or to collect on them once they have been established. The lawyers of Borden Family Lawyers can help you if you believe your spouse may be hiding income or altering their financial statements in order to show less income. Our knowledgeable and experienced team can help guide you and argue your case. By focusing our practice in family law, we are able to offer our clients an in-depth knowledge of the family law system and strategies to apply to it. Please contact us below or call us at 905-576-6090 to discuss how we can help you today. Don’t forget to ask us about our flat fees.