How Avoiding Child Support Payments Led to Prison Sentence For Nova Scotia Man

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A Nova Scotia man who owes a minimum of $250,000 in court-ordered child support has been sentenced to four and a half years in prison.

Joseph Power is being heavily scrutinized for his conduct when it comes to his duty to pay child support. This case is among the longest-term of violating child support orders ever to be issued in Canada. The judge on the case stated it was important to condemn Power’s actions to the fullest extent because of its impact on the man’s children and to uphold the authority of the courts. 

Power’s journey to avoid support payments was escalated by the courts when he moved to Denmark with his new wife and son in 2015. In 2019 the mother, Angela Power, and her lawyer, Igor Yuchshenko, were given approval by the courts to cancel his passport and driver’s licence and notify the Danish immigration authorities, which led to his deportation back to Canada. When he arrived, he was quickly found and then arrested on a nationwide APB (all-points-bulletin) in Montreal.

Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Jollimore in her recent ruling stated, “I don’t need to use adjectives like ‘shameful,’ ‘egregious,’ or ‘flagrant’ to describe Mr. Power’s behaviour”, she continued, “The dullest description of his actions doesn’t disguise the depths of his disregard for the court and his children.”

After he and his wife divorced, Power paid only about $21,000 in child support between 2007 — when the children were aged six and 12 — and 2015, the ruling indicates. That was $247,000 less than he owed.

The lawyer who handled the file on a pro-bono basis stated that “It’s a matter of coercing him to pay the money. He has money … I’m very positive that this case will be resolved very soon.” In 2015, Yushchenko brought forward new evidence that suggested Power was earning $260,000 a year at that time, while Angela had to work three jobs to provide for the child. Power is an IT professional and Angela has no professional qualifications, the judge noted.

Since 2015, Power has contributed only $3,237, which is less than a month’s support under a new order and has paid nothing since 2018, according to the ruling. He was supposed to appear in court in October 2015 to face sentencing for contempt-of-court but never showed up, as he moved that year with his new wife and son to Denmark before the court date. 

Judge Jollimore said Power offered in 2016 to sell his house and give his ex-wife half of the net proceeds to settle the matter. But Angela Power would have received only roughly $91,000, which would have been 63% less of the total amount which he owed her. 

Although his current wife testified that the couple had no other assets than the house. Judge Jollimore, said she didn’t accept that testimony, citing a previous ruling which indicated that Power had moved his financial affairs to an offshore account.

She also noted that he spoke at the hearing last week, and was emotional, but never apologized for his behaviour. “There was no evidence that Joseph Power had ever expressed any regrets until yesterday afternoon – after he had spent a month in jail”, expressed Judge Jollimore.