It’s natural for there to be some disagreements between parents who are going through separation or divorce and wind up before a judge. But in situations where mediation or other forms of settlement not involving litigation arise, it’s still important to remember that going to court still requires that people act in good faith, truthfully, and within the rules of the law. As we see in a recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, certain approaches can have significant impacts not only on the outcome of the case but also on the wallet of the offending party.
Father seeks full recovery of costs
The decision that led to the costs order being discussed today was originally delivered orally in December 2020 and was related to parenting time for the parties’ child. The father was successful at trial after the mother left the jurisdiction over the weekend midway through the trial. In the decision, the court found that the mother had spoofed emails and social media posts, falsified documents, and actively sabotaged the father’s parenting time. At the same time, the court found the father to be reasonable and child-focused during the trial.
The father returned to court, this time seeking full recovery of his costs in the amount of $450,000. In the alternative, he asked for $415,000, which were the costs he incurred after he made an offer to settle.
The mother’s conduct during the trial
The mother moved during the trial and remained out of the court’s jurisdiction throughout these proceedings. She did not formally respond to the father’s request for costs but did email a 65-page document that framed her as a victim of the husband’s family, her lawyers, her husband’s lawyers, and the court. She also outlined a number of costs she said she incurred for legal fees and other debts, though the amounts she said she owed varied throughout the document while also stating that the father was worth $50 billion. The court stated that a plain reading of her costs submission might make people believe she is unwell, though the court said she believed her possession of their daughter to be “unassailable.”
During the trial, the mother began telling a narrative that the father was not the father of the child. This led to the need to introduce specialized evidence to determine parentage. Included in this approach was the mother’s falsification of documents.
The court said “there is no question that (the mother) acted in bad faith throughout this proceeding. She actively deceived Kevin, made false allegations, falsified documents, and spoofed emails and social media. Her actions were clearly designed to inflict maximum emotional and financial harm, to deceive service providers and ultimately to manipulate the evidence before the Court.”
In addition, the court found that while the mother was in charge of the child, she took delight on being “cruel” to the father. She often set up zoon calls with video and audio turned off, leaving the father to watch the child ignore him. The mother left the child alone during some of these calls, and in one instance the child began to eat flour.
The court found that none of the mother’s conduct was directed at what was best or appropriate for the child, rather she aimed to punish the father. As a result, the father was granted full costs.
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