The Supreme Court of Canada will make its first attempt to interpret new federal child-support guidelines this spring, in a case pitting a wealthy Toronto lawyer against his relatively-impoverished former spouse.
The case involves Thomas Baker and Monica Francis, the woman he married in 1979 and with whom he had two children.
In the years following their marriage, Mr. Baker rose steadily to a senior position at a large Toronto law firm. His wife taught school, staying at home for several years after the birth of their first child before returning to work on a part-time basis.
While she was still pregnant with their second child, Mr. Baker informed Ms. Francis that their marriage was in trouble. The relationship broke up soon afterward, and Mr. Baker was not on hand for the birth of their second daughter in mid-1985. Five days after the child was born, he left his family altogether.
According to a Supreme Court summary of the case, Ms. Francis experienced great difficulty in her personal life immediately after the breakup, and quickly signed a separation agreement.
It provided her with a car and $30,000 - half the proceeds of the sale of their matrimonial home. She also got combined spousal and child support of $2,500 a month.
When her new baby was three months old, Ms. Francis returned to work and was able to afford a modest house in a rundown area of town.