Jet-Setting Dad Won’t Cough Up Credit Card Statements – So Court Declines to Grant His Order
A recent Ontario ruling illustrates a simple point, and one that should be heeded by all Family litigants: Spouses must make full financial disclosure – even if it could hurt their case. In a recent case called Brito v. Brito the husband learned this the hard way, in connection with bank and credit card statements that he refused or deliberately neglected to provide.
The husband had been subject to a court order in Ontario, requiring him to pay over $1,000 a month in support retrospective to 2008, based on the imputed income of almost $73,000 per year. However, he never honoured that support order.
To the contrary, he moved to Alberta, where he persuaded a judge to grant a provisional order reducing his support obligation to $162 a month, based on what he told the court was his current annual income of $17,000. At that point, he was already $145,000 in arrears under the original Ontario order.
He then returned before the Ontario court to ask that the more favourable Alberta order be confirmed.
“Not so fast”, the Ontario court essentially said. The problem was the husband had never made full financial disclosure along the way, as he had been previously ordered to do. Indeed, the details of his income remained sketchy and suspicious. The court wrote:
I only have income as to Mr. Brito’s lifestyle, which cannot be supported by the income that he says he makes. I do not have bank statements or credit card statements which would support his assertion that his income is low and that he lives in relative poverty. I believe that he has been untruthful about certain fundamental facts, including his evidence that he is no longer living with or partnered with [a new girlfriend] In short, I do not believe that Mr. Brito’s income is as he says it is in his income tax returns, and I do not have any evidentiary basis to make some other income finding in order to find that his income is something else.
In a noteworthy comment, the court noted that the husband “has not provided the disclosure requested as to his credit card or bank statements or as to his personal circumstances, and this in itself may very well warrant a dismissal of the claim to confirm the [Alberta] order.” The court elaborated:
Moreover, Mr. Brito has not provided the disclosure that [his wife] has requested. He says that he cannot afford to do so. [His wife] asked for bank and credit card statements from 2012 to present. … Mr. Brito has stated that he cannot afford to obtain or provide bank statements prior to January 2017. He has not provided all of his credit card statements, only those as outlined in his affidavit, of which the earliest is from 2016. …
Mr. Brito says he cannot afford to obtain documentary disclosure for these proceedings, but he can afford trips to Columbia, Portugal, and France, some of which he has taken since the commencement of his variation claim. …
Indeed, the court homed in repeatedly on the husband’s lack of disclosure around his credit cards, since these could prove or disprove his claims that he was paying for recent travel while claiming to be impoverished. It said:
Finally, Mr. Brito was asked to produce his credit card statements. This was his chance to produce the credit card statements for the points’ card through which he purchased his flights. He did not. None of the statements provided appear to be for a travel points card which would have permitted Mr. Brito to buy flights to Portugal, France, and Columbia.
I simply do not believe Mr. Brito when he says that the trips that he has taken were purchased through a points card which reflected his at work gas purchases. This means that, assuming Mr. Brito is telling the truth when he says his finances are completely separate from those of [his new girlfriend], that he is paying for the trips from his own resources, which remain undisclosed to this court.
In the end, and based partly on this non-disclosure, the court declined to confirm a portion of the prior Alberta order and went on to make related substantive claims as to the husband’s support obligations to his ex-Wife.
For the full text of the decisions, see: