Even behind the mask, Angela Power’s laugh as she leaves her local bank in Halifax and tears up the collection notices and bills.
“I got my kids out of $ 100,000 worth of student debt so it feels like freedom,” she said.
After eight years of struggle for child support with her ex-husband who moved to Denmark, was deported, hid from Canadian authorities and then thrown into jail for avoiding payments, an agreement was reached.
Joseph Power owed more than $ 490,000 in child support, plus interest on his two children. His ex-wife received “a large chunk of the balance” at the beginning of September, and said the rest of the money would be paid off next year, and “we’ll be done later.”
Joseph Power is happy to have finally reached an agreement in a statement, but said the case “set a dangerous precedent for family law in Canada.”
Nova Scotia’s management enforcement program eventually took aggressive measures to enforce payments from Joseph Power – which had been pushed by his ex-wife for many years. She still has an active lawsuit against the province, alleging the program did not timely enforce orders.
At the height of the Power vs. Power Court battle, a series of reports by the Provincial Ombudsman, Auditor General and Internal Review prompted widespread changes in the Justice Department’s programs. Since 2018, child support dues in Nova Scotia have fallen from $ 63 million to $ 52.7 million, the lowest amount in 15 years.
Enforcement measures increased by 30 percent at the same time. Currently, there are 44 active cases before the court. In contrast, there were no court proceedings in 2015 for payment defaults.
“There has been a real focus on strengthening the program over the past few years so that families are getting the money they need quickly,” said Kristen Tynes, executive director of the management logistics program.
He added that five new permanent posts were added in 2017 to improve the delivery of services and support the enforcement and procurement of maintenance payments.
Fighting the court
Angela Power’s fight for child support has been going on for so long, her two children are now in their 20s.
The Joseph Power downgrade did not occur immediately. He regularly paid $ 700 monthly for eight years.
In 2013, Angela Power provided the court with records that had higher revenues than reported. The judge increased his payments to $ 3,242 a month.
Joseph Power soon stopped paying and was rejected. He moved to Denmark, where he stayed for four years, claiming he could not afford the increased payments. His passport was eventually revoked and he was deported to Canada in 2019.
But for nearly two years, authorities have been unable to locate him. He called for a court hearing and refused to reveal his location to the jury, which triggered an arrest warrant across Canada.
Angela Power’s lawyer, Igor Yushchenko, said it was “outrageous” not to be trapped at the border.
“If you are deported from one country and come to another country and can walk freely, fly and do whatever you want, I think there is something wrong with the system,” Yushchenko said.
Joseph Power was eventually arrested in Montreal in November 2020 and sentenced to 4½ years in Halifax next month. He was released in early September after finalizing a deal with his ex-wife.
“I have given everything I have, and my current wife has given up everything to settle it – something we tried to do a long time ago. As I have claimed all the time and against the allegations, the marital home has been our only asset,” Power said in her statement.
“It took months of my imprisonment for the parties to accept that my alleged wealth claims were unfounded fiction.”
However, Justice Elizabeth Jollymore did not sympathize with her sentencing decision last December.
“If Mr. Power had no money now, because in all those months when he didn’t pay child support, the money would have been spent,” Jollymore said.
“When parents do not approve of child support, parents pay nothing more than what is appropriate for them. This prejudices the child, benefits the parent and shows the parent’s neglect of the child and rejects the other parent.”
In the Atlantic region, Nova Scotia still has the highest amount of child support dues. New Brunswick reported about $ 45 million, Newfoundland and Labrador reported $ 25 million, and PEI had $ 12 million of outstanding child support.
The main challenge for each province and province is the enforcement of child support which is the responsibility of the jurisdiction in which the payer resides. This means that if the payer goes out of the province where the court ordered him to pay, the government usually does not take action to collect those dues. Instead, responsibility falls on mutual jurisdiction.
Tynes says her department is constantly working with provincial counterparts to improve that access.
“We have working groups, we have regular meetings with our colleagues across the country, we are looking at how we can streamline and improve processes, so it doesn’t matter if recipients are in Nova Scotia and payers are in Alberta – we can facilitate those payments,” he said.
Nova Scotia justice officials are not going to give Angela Power credit for its recent success rates.
Power disrupted the province’s management enforcement program until it came out of office in 2014. The department said it had broken the rules by taking actions on its own rather than handing over orders to her former husband. The Ombudsman’s report then stood in favor of Power and ordered her to be reinstated in the program.
Yushchenko believes the pressure has had an impact on how cases are now implemented.
“In this situation, Angela is the most important person to be told [the province] What to do and how to do it, ”he said.
“And this case clearly indicates that the outcome could be achieved using a management enforcement program and a court application. You know, in some cases, even imprisonment.”
Despite the emotional and financial pressure, Angela Power said the long battle was worth it.
“I stand for my children, and I stand for other women and other children. And that’s my legacy,” she said.