At Jason P. Howie, Professional Corporation we know that getting through a separation or divorce can be an emotionally charged journey. We look to limit unnecessary litigation, whether through negotiation or through mediation. Regardless with how your legal issue is resolved, it is critical to remember how important it is to act in a manner that helps move things along and to not waste the court’s time. This was an issue recently addressed in a recent decision by the  Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The parties’ history

The mother and father lived together for about 10.5 years. They were married for all but two of these years. By the time they separated in February 2018 they had two children (aged five and eight at the time of the hearing). Until 2011 the father was employed in a job that required him to be away from April to September, though he has worked since 2011 as a firefighter in Ottawa. The mother was employed throughout their marriage as an ambulance communications officer. Since the separation the father has stayed in the matrimonial home while the mother rent ones in the same town.

The reason they were appearing before the court in this case was because the mother was seeking an order for temporary child support for the couple’s children.

Incomplete information

The court pointed out early in its decision that the parties dispute nearly every important fact before the court. While they parents provided a great deal of information related to their positions on child custody, they failed to provide the court with the necessary items to resolve child support issues, such as child expense budgets. The couple also failed to provide the court with information around their expenses for items like housing and transportation costs that are relevant to the issues at hand. In addition, the mother did not provide accurate statements about their income, testifying to making one amount while providing tax forms that show another.

In looking at the expenses provided by the parents, the court wrote

“Based on the incomes of $70,000 and $108,000, respectively, (the mother) in this case should bear approximately 40 per cent of the expenses and (the father) should bear 60 per cent. However, I am not confident that I have all, or even accurate, information regarding the variable expenses in this case. For example, (the mother’s) financial statement indicates that she spends only $475 per month on groceries for herself and her two children while (the father’s) financial statement indicates that he spends $1,000 a month for the same number of people (although I suppose it is possible he is paying for food for the tenant to whom I referred earlier). In addition, (the father’s) financial statement indicates that he spends $250 per month feeding himself while at work.”

The court found itself unable to fix child support based on the expenses provided by the parties. Because of this, the court decided to impose a temporary temporary child support order, requiring the father to pay $300 per month.

On costs

When it came to costs, the court took time to point out the behaviour of the parties. The court wrote,

“Even if it could be said that one party was more victorious than another, I am not inclined to award costs to either one of them. As I mentioned above, the affidavits in this motion were unnecessarily long. I understand that it may be more cost effective for lawyers to ask their clients to write out their versions of events and to simply have those versions type-written and put into affidavit form. I also understand that it may be cost effective to throw all of the facts relating to all of the issues or potential issues into one affidavit. However, these practices should be discouraged. The affidavits filed in support of the motion for child and spousal support contained copious amounts of evidence related solely to the issue of custody, a matter upon which the parties have already reached agreement. None of this evidence was helpful to the court with respect to the issue of support. Indeed, much of it proved to be a waste of the court’s time.”

At Jason P. Howie, Professional Corporation, we receive many questions related to child support, such as who has to pay it, and for how long? Child support in Ontario is determined based on a formula. Additional expenses not covered by the formula, such as education and medical expenses, must be factored in separately. Each situation is unique, though, and having an experienced lawyer by your side will help you understand your rights and receive what you are owed. Please contact us online or by phone at 519.973.1500 to speak with us today about issues around child support or other areas of family law.