Tuesday, 03 April 2012 23:30
The basic facts are as such: Mrs. Kerpan and Mr. Vovers married in 1983, in Australia; Their daughter, Jade was born in 1986; They moved around, internationally, for Mr. Vovers work; After their separation, in 1990, Ms. Kerpan returned to her native Canada, with Jade in tow; Ms. Kerpan commenced a court case in 1992, and, from an issue that would become key in the more recent part of the Court case, she had those proceedings “served” on Mr. Vovers, on October 30, 1992, while Mr. Vovers was in BC for a visit with Jade. Mr. Vovers left Canada the day after being served, continued to travel and live internationally, and did not return to Canada until a Trial was held this year.
In the court’s recent decision, Mr. Vovers had claimed that he was never served with the initial court papers. Therefore, any orders made from those initial papers were not valid. If he was successful in this current claim it could deflect over $200,000 in child support arrears that had accumulated against him, based on the old Court orders. Sadly for Mr. Vovers but good news for Jade, her mother and the justice system in general, Mr. Justice Verhoeven did not accept Mr. Vovers’ ‘story’ about not being served with the original court papers. Thus, Mr. Vovers argument to also set aside the old child support orders failed too. Now, the Canadian Family Maintenance Enforcement authorities, working with their Australian counterparts, would be able to enforce the old BC court orders and try to get Mr. Vovers to pay the past due child support that is rightfully owing for, and to, Jade.
What was most disturbing about reading a case like this, is that it shows the efforts that it can take, and the ‘let-downs’ along the way, because of our legal system, and support enforcement mechanisms. It is a system that allows payers of support to frustrate things, or delay things, so that justice gets delayed, and, as they say, then gets denied. Conversely, what is good to read about a case like this is that even though it took over a decade to enforce, and there were some questionable judicial decisions along the way (see the part about the Louisiana Courts, wow!), the Family Maintenance authorities pressed on, over multiple international boundaries, to finally catch up to a father who reneged on his legal, if not moral, obligation to financially support a child that he brought into the world. Also, this case helps explain to would-be parents who want to avoid support obligations, or parents who are owed back-support, that with enough time, even 20-years, the law can catch up to non-payers of support and make them pay.
There are some other interesting parts of the case, like who ‘served’ Mr. Vovers, and some interesting ways in which the Trial Judge determined whose version of events was more credible than the others, but you can read those all for yourself if you’re interested. Enough to say, it is refreshing to see a case where a ‘just’ result seems to have been made in our justice system.
Another ‘bonus’ to this case was that Ms. Kerpan represented herself through the 4-day Trial and received her costs for doing so successfully. Her daughter should be proud.
The full text of the Judgment is at the following link: http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/12/01/2012BCSC0154.htm