You’re Pregnant After a Breakup – Your Rights Under Canadian Law

Breaking up with a partner is often an emotional time. However, discovering you’re pregnant right after the relationship ends adds an entirely new layer of complexity both emotionally and legally. If this happens to you, it’s important to understand your rights and the obligations of your ex-partner under Canadian family law.

Confirming Paternity

The first step is obtaining confirmation that your ex is indeed the biological father of the child. You will need them to voluntarily submit to a DNA paternity test or pursue a court-ordered genetic test. Establishing legal paternity is necessary before pursuing any child support claims.

Once paternity is confirmed or acknowledged by your ex, they will be legally obligated to provide ongoing financial support for the child until the age of majority, which is 18 or 19 depending on province of residence. This is true even if the relationship ended prior to discovering the pregnancy.

Applying for Child Support

Canadian law allows unmarried parents to apply for formal child support orders through their provincial or territorial family law courts and tribunals. The jurisdiction you reside in determines the specific application and approval process.

Generally, you would fill out an application package including proof of paternity, income information for both parents, and proposed parenting arrangements like visitation. The courts use provincial child support guidelines to calculate a monthly support payment amount based on both parents’ incomes.

Support orders can later be adjusted if there is a substantial income change for either parent. They remain in effect until the child turns 18/19 years old unless a court agrees to terminate support earlier.

Receiving Interim Support

While waiting for a final child support order to be processed, you can request interim or temporary support payments from your ex. This ensures the child’s immediate needs are met financially. Interim decisions are usually based on the basic principles and evidence provided initially.

It’s crucial to file for both interim and finalized ongoing support as early in the pregnancy as possible to safeguard your child’s rights and needs from birth. Your provincial child support services can assist with the application process.

Seeking Backdated Support

Canadian courts have the discretion to order child support retroactive or backdated to the date of the application or even the child’s birth. You may be eligible for unpaid support amounts during periods where none were agreed upon or paid voluntarily.

However, courts avoid backdating by long periods and consider if it may cause undue hardship. It’s best not to delay pursuing your legal parental responsibilities when a pregnancy occurs outside of an intact relationship.

Enforcing Support Orders

Once a child support order is issued, parents are legally obligated to make timely payments directly to the custodial parent or to the designated provincial enforcement program. Consistent non-payment or chronic arrears can result in additional enforcement tools like payroll deduction, seizure of assets and banking accounts, suspension of licenses, and even jail time in extreme cases.

Custody Arrangements

Aside from financial support, Canadian courts can also make parenting orders regarding custody of and access to a child born outside of an intact relationship. The overall best interests of the child are prioritized over parents’ preferences. Expect a gradual increasing parenting schedule with safeguards as the non-custodial parent establishes a relationship with the baby.

In Summary

Discovering a pregnancy after a breakup adds emotional difficulties but Canadian child support laws protect both mother and child. Establishing paternity and pursuing ongoing and retroactive court-enforced support according to provincial guidelines is important. Contact provincial legal aid resources if needed for guidance on next steps. With clarity around rights and responsibilities, hope remains for a cooperative co-parenting future despite a relationship ending.

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