Retired Businessman Steve Schulte Triumphs as High Court Deems Family Act Unconstitutional
A well-known retired businessman was victorious today in the High Court when Justice Martha Alexander deemed a section of the Families and Childrens Act, unconstitutional. 77-year-old, Steve Schulte was inspired to challenge the act after his 27-year-old wife took him to court to maintain two of her children that were not biologically his. This was back in 2018, when the court ruled in the wife’s favor, and ordered Schulte to pay five thousand six hundred and seventy five dollars monthly for the two children. Feeling jilted, and discriminated against, Schulte filed a challenge in court as explained by his Attorney Magali Marin-Young.
Magali Marin Young, Attorney At Law: “That started out with Mr. Schulte, a 77-year-old who married a 27-year-old. At the time of the marriage, the 27-year-old had two children for other men. The children were seven and three years old at the time of the marriage. The marriage did not last more than seven months. The parties broke, the marriage broke down. The parties went their separate ways. The 27 year old wife immediately launched an application before the magistrate court family division to seek maintenance. An order was made, exparte without Mr. Schulte being present, which the law allows. An award of up to more than 5,000 was awarded against Mr. Schulte to pay maintenance for these two children. Mr. Schulte then challenged, asked the magistrate, please stay these proceedings there is something discriminatory about this section under which you awarded these maintenance for these children and I want to challenge it. And Mr. Schulte did challenge it in the High Court to say that section 48 subsection one of the Families and Children’s Act is in fact discriminatory against men. Because whereas it imposes an ability on men to marry their biological children plus the children of their wife whether those children are biologically his or not, it does not have a similar provision which obligates a wife to maintain her children and the children of her husband even though she’s not the mother of those children. And the matter was argued before the high court and today Justice Marta Alexander handed down a decision which found that in fact that section within the Families and Children Act in fact discriminates against men. It’s an important ruling because it has implications for men in terms of being obligated to maintain children that are not theirs but are children of the marriage by extension because they are the children of the woman he marries.”
As we noted, the matter was taken to court in 2018, but a judgment was delayed as it was one of several cases that the then Chief Justice, Kenneth Benjamin had left undone. The matter was then passed onto Justice Alexander who handed down the judgment today. According to Attorney Marin-Young, it is a victory for men, especially those who find themselves in predatory marriages.
Magali Marin Young, Attorney At Law: “So a man is still obligated to maintain his children, but he’s no longer obligated to maintain the children of his wife who are not his biological children. Now, a man may choose to adopt his wife’s children, legally adopt them and they become his and he will have a legal obligation to maintain those children. For Mr. Schulte it is certainly a relief because as I had mentioned earlier he was ordered to pay in excess of $5,000 a month to maintain these two children. That order was made some five years ago which means his liability would have been like $300,000 plus. So what the ruling means is that in effect there’s a trickle down the High Court has ruled that section is discriminatory and it was under that section that the maintenance was awarded. So the trickle-down effect is that the decision also is null and void. So he, from a personal perspective, is certainly relieved of that obligation to pay. For the wider public you know the women can no longer go to the family court to oblige their husband to maintain children that are not biologically the husband’s.”
Crown Counsel Samantha Matute argued for the Office of the Attorney General, saying that Section 48 was justified, and was in the best interest of the child or children. In her written submission, Matute noted that in recent times the concept of a blended family has evolved, and it is now standard that spouses come with children from a previous relationship. In these instances, she said it would be in the best interest of the children to be included regardless of genetics. Attorney Marin-Young was aided by her associate, Alistair Jenkins.