Going to Family Court? Here Are Some Ploys and Excuses NOT to Try
In the recent case of Seed v. Desai involved a situation where – yet again – the court was asked to resolve the conflicting or obfuscated stories of family litigants. In that case, the husband was obliged to provide full disclosure of his financial circumstances and income in order to determine the spousal and child support he was obligated to pay after he and the wife separated. The court found many problems with the husband’s evidence, among other things:
• He purported to provide financial statements, but they were virtually impossible for the court to make sense of; among other things, they intermingled not only his business and personal financial debts and affairs, but also those of his soon-to-be Ex wife.
• He also painted an overall picture of having to repeatedly borrow money just to keep his business and personal / family expenses afloat, to which the court remarked:
The information the respondent and his bookkeeper put before the court paints a clear picture of insolvency yet he states he intends to continue his business because it is the very best way he can provide for his family. He used colourful language to describe the hard work ahead to chip away at his debt, comparing it to “using a teaspoon to fill a crater”.
• He provided his income tax returns, but when viewed against the tally of his personal expenses, nanny salary, gifts and other discretionary items betraying a much higher standard of living, they would need to reflect a far higher declared income for him to be able to meet all of his expenses.
Concluding that the husband’s “explanation that he robs Peter to pay Paul to stay afloat seems implausible and unsustainable”, the court found there was no other conclusion but that the husband’s income tax returns under-stated his income for the years in question.
The Seed v. Desai case prompted me to take a glimpse back for some other family law cases in which a court was given lame or improbable excuses by one of the parties. It didn’t take long to pull up the following examples:
• In a case called E.A. v. F.A.S., the husband claimed that he couldn’t pay $10,000 in court costs that were being claimed by the wife, because he had recently been criminally convicted and was having trouble finding work. The court essentially decided that the husband was the author of his own misfortune: — he could not use his own criminal conduct as a shield to protect himself from having to pay full court costs, or to justify paying the wife a lesser amount.
• In Pisani v. Pisani, the father claimed that he had not paid child support for his three children, retroactive to the date of separation, because the mother had refused to give him a receipt for payment. The court called this a “poor excuse and one that is not countenanced by the court.”
• In Reyes v. Rollo, when the couple separated the husband, who the court described as having “a complex financial history about which he is knowledgeable”, was obliged to provide financial disclosure as part of the process of unwinding their affairs. He gave what the court called “weak excuses” for poor, incomplete and late financial disclosure, claiming that he was a “private person” and didn’t want to “bare his soul.” The court had no hesitation in rejecting the husband’s evidence whenever it conflicted with that of the wife.
For the full text of the decisions, see:
Seed v. Desai, 2014 ONSC 3329 (CanLII),
E.A. v. F.A.S., 2014 ONSC 4144 (CanLII),
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