Are You Litigating for the Right Reasons?
I was struck by a comment that appears in the recent Ontario decision in Scarrow v. Cowan, 2014 ONSC 955 (CanLII). The court, in setting out the basic facts in the dispute between separated parents, pointed out that they had a “very special daughter” together, who had been chosen for an elite European exchange program. In lamenting the fact that the father’s relationship with the 17-year old daughter had broken down entirely, the court declared the situation “undeniably tragic”. Even worse, not only did the father blame the daughter herself for this state of affairs, but he was going the extra step by deliberately hindering and obstructing the mother’s legitimate claims for child support. Among other things, the mother had been forced to go to court to try to obtain support arrears the father had not paid.
In this context, the court observed:
I cannot help but ask whether this motion would even have been brought had the [father] maintained the relationship that he should have had with [the daughter]; financial issues are often the only way that a parent with a failed relationship with a child can express his or her frustration.
This comment by the court prompted us to reflect on some of the things that we see motivating clients in the various decisions they must make in the context of managing their own family law matters.
On this blog we have previously written or discussed that some clients insist on using the family courts and dispute resolution process as a vehicle for revenge on their former spouses.
This kind of approach is never a good idea. The choice to “dig in your heels” and drag your former spouse (and often your kids as well) through needless motions and steps in the dispute-resolution process only means that the whole experience will only become unduly prolonged, not to mention unnecessarily expensive.
The solution is very simple: Avoid using the family process for hidden motives or nefarious purposes. Not only is this a waste of your time and money, but also the outcome – whether strategically, financially, or emotionally – is almost never as good as you think it will be.
For the full text of the decision, see:
Scarrow v. Cowan, 2014 ONSC 955 (CanLII) http://canlii.ca/t/g34rn