Globe and Mail

Child support could reach $60,000 a month

By ROBERT MATAS
Tuesday, February 5, 2002 – Print Edition, Page A8
The Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER -- A British Columbia millionaire in a bitter spat with her estranged millionaire husband is testing the limits of federal child-support guidelines in a court case that could require the father to pay out $60,000 a month.

Ian Macdonald, a senior executive at RBC Dominion Securities, and his wife Susan were married for almost 11 years and had three children before they separated.

Court documents show that in the final years of their marriage and afterwards, Mr. Macdonald, 43, did extremely well financially, boosting his income to $6.5-million in 2000 from $785,000 in 1996. Since his marriage broke up in 1999, he has managed to put away $2.7-million in savings.

In an unprecedented family-law court case to begin this morning Ms. Macdonald, 42, is asking the court to order her estranged husband to share the wealth with his children in a much more generous fashion than he has so far.

Ms. Macdonald is wealthy in her own right and receives significant sums of money from companies and a trust fund controlled by her family. Her share of the matrimonial assets were estimated last year at more than $3-million.

However, she wants Mr. Macdonald to pay child support according to federal guidelines that could mean sending a cheque for as much as $59,500 a month for the three children. Money is not the only issue at stake in the courtroom. The case -- which will deal with the division of family assets and custody as well as support payments -- raises a fundamental question, a lawyer involved in the high-stakes domestic dispute said.

The court will have to decide whether the law applies to the wealthy differently than it applies to the poor, he said. If everyone is treated the same under the law, Mr. Macdonald could be required to pay out $720,000 annually in support. Neither Mr. Macdonald nor Ms. Macdonald agreed to be interviewed. Details of the millionaires' disagreement are set out in B.C. Supreme Court documents.

Shortly after they separated, a temporary court order gave Ms. Macdonald day-to-day care of the children and Mr. Macdonald was to receive generous access.

Mr. MacDonald was subsequently ordered to pay $59,500 a month in child support, based on the federal guidelines. On appeal, the level of payment was reduced last summer to $20,000 a month. The court ruled that the level of support payments under the guideline was excessive.

"Although I accept [Ms. Macdonald's] argument that she may want to take the children to Paris, have them educated abroad or take them on an expensive holiday, there are no reasonably contemplated expenses for the children that can approach $59,500 a month, or $714,00 a year," the judge wrote.

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