Virtual Library of Newspaper Articles

Fashion guru to pay record child support

$15,091 per month: Canadian Nygard argues amount is 'inappropriate'

National Post,  Southam News, by Cristin SchmitzTuesday, October 15, 2002

A Canadian fashion magnate whose spectacular Bahamas residence dwarfs the famed abode of Bill Gates has been ordered to pay record child support to a former lover.

Peter Nygard
Fashion magnate Peter Nygard, seen here with daughters Alia, left, and Bianca, has been ordered to pay a record $15,091 per month in child support to the Oakville mother of his teen son Mika.

Peter Nygard, chairman of Nygard International, who built a small Winnipeg company into a $300-million women's clothing empire, was ordered by a Toronto judge to pay $15,091 per month on an interim basis to Kaarina Pakka of Oakville until their dispute goes to trial, likely in 2003.

Ms. Pakka, 52, had been receiving $3,000 per month for Mika, her 15-year-old son with Mr. Nygard, 61, who has fathered seven children by four women.

The pair has been in and out of court since 1988, when Mr. Nygard lost his constitutional bid to strike down a law authorizing paternity testing. more than a decade ago, Mr. Nygard was also taken to court by another woman over child support.

Reported in the current edition of The Lawyers Weekly, Ontario Superior Court Justice Frances Kiteley's monthly award totals $181,092 a year.

"It's the largest child support order for one child in Canada," confirmed Ms. Pakka's lawyer, Harold Niman. The previous record payment was $11,173 per month for a four-year-old Ontario boy. An award of $19,833 per month for each of three B.C. children was quickly slashed on appeal to $6,666.

Such large awards, which fathers argue exceed children's reasonable needs and are disguised wealth transfers to mothers, are prompting calls for U.S.-style, legislated upper limits or "caps" on what the wealthy must pay to support their offspring.

Judge Kiteley, who found Mr. Nygard's annual income to be $2.2-million for child support purposes, rejected his argument that $15,091 was too high and "inappropriate," since his son's basic needs were budgeted at $6,454 per month.

Noting Mr. Nygard's "extravagant standard of living" in a 150,000-square-foot "tree house" that was featured on television's Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, she ruled that "the son of an extremely wealthy man ... ought not to be required to live at a standard of living far lower than the ability of his father to provide."

The Supreme Court of Canada has stated the "sheer size" of a child support award does not necessarily make it inappropriate.

"Child expenses which may well be reasonable for the wealthy may too quickly be deemed unreasonable by the courts," the high court ruled.

Federal child support guidelines, slated for reform over the next year, require judges to award support to custodial parents based on a fixed percentage of the paying parent's income, not on the proven needs of children. In cases involving non-custodial parents with incomes of more than $150,000, the law permits courts to deviate from the formula only if the high-income parent proves the formula award is inappropriate.

"For the defendant to support his son to the tune of less than 12% of his disclosed expenses or to the tune of about 8% of his income does not seem unreasonable," Judge Kiteley said.

She also dismissed Mr. Nygard's argument that the award was inappropriate given his personal policy of treating all his children similarly by paying their mothers $3,000 per month, in U.S. or Canadian dollars, depending on where the particular child lives. He said he paid $216,000 in 2000 to support six of his children, four of whom are under 18.

Ms. Pakka, who earns $52,000 a year, is seeking final child support of about $41,820 per month, including $30,488 to enable her to buy a suitable residence for herself and Mika, $4,000 for future savings and $3,025 for a car.

Her proposed standard of living pales next to Mr. Nygard's, who the judge said spends "more" than the $130,000 per month he estimated he expends on his lavish lifestyle.

The jet-setting entrepreneur spent millions building Nygard Cay Resort, where flamingos and peacocks wander among Polynesian-style huts and towering man-made cliffs on five beach-front acres. "Amenities, if that is the word, include a lagoon running through the house and a 40-foot-long dining table that descends to become ... a disco floor," Town and Country reports in Houses of Girth.

Canadian Business magazine ranked Mr. Nygard No. 55 of the 100 richest Canadians in 2001, with an estimated fortune of $490-million.

Rarely publicity shy, Mr. Nygard recently failed to convince a court to shield his identity in his latest child support battle with Ms. Pakka.

Judge Kiteley's interim April 30 child support order became publicly available only last week, after the time for appeal ran out on her September ruling denying Mr. Nygard's request for a confidentiality order.

There is a "general public interest" in how the child support guidelines are interpreted, she ruled. "Whether the payer is wealthy ... or the payer is of lesser means, the rules with respect to openness ought to be the same."

Mr. Nygard has been condemned by several judges involved in the case for "abusive" litigation tactics that included fighting the legally required disclosure of his finances. It took Ms. Pakka two years to get a child support order that normally would be issued within months.

"This appears to be one Read More ..tempt by the father to evade his responsibility to the court through delays, lawyer-switching, strategic non-participation, and peek-a-boo, 'now you see me, now you don't' litigation tactics," remarked one judge, who dismissed Mr. Nygard's belated request to raise a constitutional issue in the case.

Judge Kiteley predicted "it is probable that the war will continue to be waged at great cost to both parties."

After a previous child support tussle with Mr. Nygard in 1993, Ms. Pakka founded the child support group Mothers against Fathers in Arrears (MAFIA), whose members picketed Mr. Nygard's Toronto office.

His company responded with a libel suit.

Copyright 2002 National Post Online

National Post

Ontario's child financial support collection agency has big problems

Ontario's Family Responsibility Office has many problems

Quote from Ontario Government Ombudsman -"an equal opportunity error-prone program,."'

Support recipients not getting their money.

Men who've been meeting their court-ordered obligations have trouble getting the FRO to stop taking payments when it's supposed to.   Read More ..

National Post logo

Pilloried, broke, alone

March 25, 2000

Divorced fathers get a bad rap for not supporting their children. The truth is, many can't. And, tragically, some are driven to desperate measures, including suicide.

In his suicide note, Jim, the father of four children, protests that "not all fathers are deadbeats." Jim hanged himself because he couldn't see any alternative. Even now, his children are unaware of the circumstances of their father's death. Meeno Meijer, National Post George Roulier is fighting to regain money wrongfully taken from his wages by the Ontario child-support collection agency. Chris Bolin, National Post Alan Heinz, a Toronto firefighter, has gone bankrupt fighting for the return of his daughter, 3, from Germany. No one will help him, but German authorities are trying to collect child support from him.

Whenever fathers and divorce are discussed, one image dominates: the 'deadbeat dad,' the schmuck who'd rather drive a sports car than support his kids. Because I write about family matters, I'm regularly inundated with phone calls, faxes, letters and e-mail from divorced men. It's not news that divorced individuals have little good to say about their ex-spouses. What I'm interested in is whether the system assists people during this difficult time in their lives, or compounds their misery. From the aircraft engineer in British Columbia, to the postal worker on the prairies, to the fire fighter in Toronto, divorced fathers' stories are of a piece: Though society stereotypes these men relentlessly, most divorced dads pay their child support. Among those who don't, a small percentage wilfully refuse to (the villains you always hear about).

What you haven't been told is that the other men in arrears are too impoverished to pay, have been ordered to pay unreasonable amounts, have been paying for unreasonable lengths of time, or are the victims of bureaucratic foul-ups. Read More ..

Calgary Sun newspaper logo

Non-dad on hook for support

Edmonton and Calgary Sun
Feb 5, 2005

EDMONTON -- An Edmonton judge has decided a divorced dad has to make child support payments, even though the child isn't his. Justin Sumner had an on-again-off-again relationship with the woman he eventually married, Dawn Sumner.

She already had a child from a previous relationship with a man named Rob Duncan, and as she and Justin broke up and reunited, Dawn was sexually involved with both men.

When she found she was pregnant, she called Justin, who recognized there was a possibility that Duncan was the father, but later concluded he was the dad.

Father Committeed Suicide after calling Family Responsibility Office

Andrew T. Renouf committed suicide on or about October 17, 1995 because he had 100% of his wages taken by the Family Responsibility Office, a child support collection agency of the Government of Ontario, Canada.

He asked for assistance for food and shelter from the welfare office and was refused because he had a job, even though all of his wages were taken by the Family Responsibility Office.

Andy was a loving father that hadn't seen his daughter in 4 years.

A memorial service was held in October, 1998, for Andy in front of the Family Responsibility Office at 1201 Wilson Avenue, West Tower, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. This is in the Ministry of Transportation grounds in the Keele St. & Hwy 401 area. All members of the Ontario Legislature were invited by personal letter faxed to their offices. Not one turned up. The Director of the Family Responsibility Office and his entire staff were invited to the brief service. The Director refused and wouldn't let the staff attend the service although it was scheduled for lunch time. There was a peaceful demonstration by followed by a very touching service by The Reverend Alan Stewart. The text of the service will soon be able to be read below.

The service made the TV evening news.

It was Andy's last wish that his story be told to all. YOU CAN READ HIS SUICIDE NOTE

Auditor General Ontario

Auditor General of Ontario

Disasterous Report on the Family Reponsibility Office FRO 2010

80% of Telephone calls don't get answered

Payers and recipients do not have direct access to their assigned enforcement services officer

"There is only limited access to enforcement staff because many calls to the Office do not get through or are terminated before they can be answered."

"The Office is reviewing and working on only about 20% to 25% of its total cases in any given year."

"At the end of our audit in April 2010, there were approximately 91,000 bring-forward notes outstanding, each of which is supposed to trigger specific action on a case within one month. The status of almost one-third of the outstanding bring-forward notes was "open," indicating either that the notes had been read but not acted upon, or that they had not been read at all, meaning that the underlying nature and urgency of the issues that led to these notes in the first place was not known. In addition, many of the notes were between one and two years old."

"For ongoing cases, the Office took almost four months from the time the case went into arrears before taking its first enforcement action. For newly registered cases that went straight into arrears, the delay was seven months from the time the court order was issued."

Ottawa Citizen

Ontario agency admits to overbilling on child support payments

The Ottawa Citizen
January 14, 2012

TORONTO - Ontario's controversial Family Responsibility Office has been overbilling 1,700 parents, mostly fathers, for as long as 13 years, the province admitted Friday.

The 1,700 parents were overbilled by an average $75 each month, after the agency wrongly applied a cost of living adjustment that was eliminated in 1997.

Those who were overpaid will not be forced to give the money back.

Instead, taxpayers will foot the $5.3 million bill for the agency's mistake.

"This error's been found and it's being corrected," said Liberal cabinet minister John Milloy. "We're going to be reaching out to those individuals (who were overbilled) and talking to them about their situation, formally alerting them."

The Family Responsibility Office, or FRO, is responsible for ensuring court-ordered child support payments are made. Read More .. than 97 per cent of all payers overseen by the office are male.

Milloy said the agency discovered the problem at some point in 2011. No one will be fired for the mistakes, he added.

"I see this as something very serious," he said in an interview. "I'm not trying to minimize it, but … there's been lots of action taken to reform FRO, to update computer systems, to update customer relations and it's on a much firmer footing."

The billing mistake is only the latest controversy to engulf FRO.

Women's Post Newspaper

"Canada's national newspaper for professional women"

The Family Responsibility Office Under Scrutiny

On June 9, 2005 the McGuinty government announced the passage of Bill 155, legislation that promised to increase enforcement, improve fairness and enhance efficiency at the Family Responsibility Office (FRO).

However, the legislation did not address the problem of accountability and, as things now stand, the FRO is a threat to every Canadian affected by a government regulated support and custody arrangement system. Think of George Orwell's 1984 and you'll have a good picture of how issues are handled at the FRO.

They have legal power to extort money from Canadians, but are not responsible or accountable for their actions.

Last year an FRO staff member decided not to wait for a court date to review the financial status of an out-of-work truck driver and took it upon themselves to suspend his license because he was, understandably, behind on his payments, having lost his job earlier in the year. Although he was looking for work, the FRO cut off the only way he knew of to earn a living. His suicide note explained how he'd lost all hope. Is this what we want FRO to be doing?  Read More ..