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CANADIAN COURT CASE PUTS LIMIT ON CHILD SUPPORT FOR WEALTHY

Canada's Supreme Court has capped the amount of money the wealthy are compelled to pay in child support.

The unanimous ruling was made in response to an appeal by Toronto multimillionaire Thomas Baker, who wanted a reduction in the $7,000 (U.S.) a month he pays to his former wife in her efforts to support their two teen-age daughters.

Baker, who is worth an estimated $54 million (U.S.), said the payments were excessive. His ex-wife earns just over $40,000 (U.S.) a year.

The high court upheld the level of child support, noting that Baker failed to show how the amount was burdensome.

The court also ruled that child support payments do have limits.

"Courts must have the discretion" to remedy child payment amounts that "are so in excess of the children's reasonable needs, they no longer qualify as child support" but rather as "wealth transfer or de facto spousal support," Justice Michael Bastarache wrote.

In its ruling, the court considered Canada's 1997 Federal Child Support Guidelines, which lay out the levels of child support payments based on the income of the paying parent.

However, those guidelines only establish payment levels for incomes up to $103,000 (U.S.). Those with higher incomes are required only to add a small percentage of between 0.6 and 1.04 percent of their incomes, depending on the number of children.

Baker left Monica Francis in 1985 while she was pregnant with their second child. Ms. Francis signed an agreement that gave her just over $20,000 (U.S.) from the sale of their house, a 1984 car and less than $2,000 (U.S.) a month in support payments.

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