Complying with a court order is a serious responsibility. We’ve blogged in the past about the importance of it, and the consequences that can arise when court orders are not followed or outright ignored. Whether a party is made to pay child support, spousal support, or to follow any other orders, such as to avoid posting about an ex-spouse on social media, it’s never a good idea to ignore such obligations. A recent decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice provides a short and sweet summary of how the courts can respond to failures to comply.

Pre-trial conduct leads to order of costs

Leading up to this decision, the husband and wife had divorced. The divorce took place in 2016, and the judge at that time ordered the husband to pay costs of $2,643.33 to the wife. The costs were imposed on the husband because of his pre-trial conduct. The judge summarized his conduct as follows before ordering the costs:

“As with all discretions, it is to be exercised with fairness and with an eye to the behaviour of the parties.  The latter being pertinent to the duration and necessity for proceedings.  A party who thwarts or hinders the other party’s “access to justice” should pay for the inconvenience and the resources consumed in that pursuit.  To claim as the (husband) does that he will be economically disadvantaged by trying this matter in Ontario, after he has dissipated what was a family asset in Ontario is hypocritical to say the least.  The total lack of any response by the (husband) to the request for collateral relief reinforces that sense of hypocrisy. The (husband) played “hardball” with the jurisdiction issue, probably hoping that he would win by attrition.”

No patience from the court

Two years later, the husband had not paid the costs ordered. He provided some excuses, namely that he did not know where to go in order to pay costs. The court wasn’t hearing it, with the decision starting off with the statement, “On the evidence before me it appears that the respondent does not think court orders apply to him when it comes to the payment of costs and the production of documents.”

In terms of documentation required to be filed, it appeared that the husband simply lied about having submitted them. Again, the court did not look kindly upon his actions, writing,

“To submit that he filed the financial documentation required by the rules and in this case also by court order, does not appear to be correct since the documents were not in the court file. In addition (he) wrote on October 15, 2018, that he had a list of what was required by the court and that he would proceed to prepare them for filing, if the trial was adjourned.  The only interpretation I can give to that sentence is that they were not prepared and filed prior to October 15, 2018, the date of the trial.”

The court pointed out that ignoring court orders makes life difficult for the wife, and it makes further settlement discussions nearly impossible to have since there’s no documentation to rely on. The costs of pursuing payment of costs and documentation led to an additional cost order of nearly $16,000 bringing his total cost payable to over $18,000.

At Gelman & Associates, our highly experienced and knowledgeable team of family law lawyers provide our clients with information needed to make informed decisions, with the goal of avoiding situations such as those faced by the husband in today’s blog. We work toward our clients’ individual goals, attempting to settle things without litigation when possible, but we’re ready to aggressively litigate on their behalf when doing so becomes necessary. We also provide our clients with a comprehensive family law kit during their initial consultation. This kit provides ample information and resources to help you understand and navigate the separation and divorce process. Please call us at 844-769-0737 or reach us online to talk today.