Court axes $32,000 in back child support for mom who abducted her daughter

KELOWNA, B.C. – A woman who abducted her daughter and fled to Italy is not entitled to more than $32,000 in back child support from her former husband, says a B.C. Supreme Court justice.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan said in a judgment posted online Wednesday that if Sibylla Hughes needs financial support, she should return to B.C. with her daughter, Livia, and address the fact she is in contempt of court.

The mother had asked the court to calculate how much child support she was owed and to enforce any payment order after her former husband, Calum Hughes, applied to have his arrears cancelled.

The hearing was held in Kelowna, B.C., May 10.

“It is wrong in principle to subsidize her breaches of this court’s orders,” said McEwan. “The onus is on the respondent to bring herself and Livia back under this court’s jurisdiction before she is entitled to any remedy from it.”

McEwan also ordered the court to release $2,016 to Calum Hughes after the money had been deducted from his wages.

When contacted by The Canadian Press, Calum Hughes said he had yet to read the judgment.

“The only thing I want is for my daughter to know that I’m alive and for me to be in her life,” he said. “That’s what I’ve wanted since the day she was born.”

A lawyer for his ex-wife did not return a request for an interview.

The couple was married July 29, 2006, their daughter, Livia, was born Jan. 3, 2007, and they separated May 6, 2007.

During the following years, the courts issued several custody orders, the last of which was issued on June 30, 2009 and gave the father unsupervised access on specific dates.

But Sibylla Hughes took Livia to Italy before a July 17, 2009 visit with the father.

She was ordered by a judge to return her daughter to Vancouver and surrender the child’s passport but didn’t, and a court found her in contempt.

A warrant for the arrest of the mother was issued on Dec. 16, 2009 for breaching a court order.

B.C. Supreme Court Justice Alison Beames gave Calum Hughes custody of his daughter in a Jan. 15, 2010 ruling.

Calum Hughes stopped paying child support for the now-six-year-old girl in May 2010, believing he had waited long enough for Livia to be returned to Canada.

Those arrears were estimated by Sibylla Hughes to be more than $32,200.

Court documents state the woman still files tax returns as a resident and claims the child-tax credit, and in her 2011 return represented her daughter as a resident of British Columbia.

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