When the Litigation Lasts Longer than the Marriage Did
A frequent complaint about family litigation, in particular, is that it’s a costly and inordinately long process, with cases tied up in the family courts for years.
It’s actually surprisingly common for the duration of the litigation between a former couple to far exceed the length of the marriage or relationship itself!
The parties have a short marital history: they were married in 1999, had a child in 2000, separated in 2001 and were divorced in 2002. Since then, the litigation has been unrelenting. The parties have logged more hours in the court house than many part-time court employees. The continuing record consists of 10 volumes. Theirs is a blueprint for how not to handle a separation.
At the point when Justice Quinn made these observations, it was already 5 years after the former couple’s divorce, and the litigation continued beyond that for at least another year.
But even in somewhat longer marriages, the litigation can still quickly outstrip the duration of the union itself.
In a case called Anderson v. McWatt, the couple had been married for 11 years but had been living together for several years before that. But by the time of their 2015 hearing before the Ontario Court of Appeal, they had been embroiled in 15 years’ worth of what the court called “high conflict” litigation over the retroactive child support for their now-grown children, and over a business, they had initially started and run together.
These are just two of many, many examples. Does it still count as a “relationship” when a couple sees each other only in court?
For the full text of these decisions, see: