A Harsh Reminder Of The Limits Of Litigation

March 11, 2016
Leisha Murphy

Earlier this week, we read an interesting piece in the Toronto Sun ​covering a recent family law court ruling out of Hamilton, Ontario.  In the words of the article’s author, the judge’s decision was “an astounding plea for sanity”, as he “blasted warring parents for squandering $500,000 on their bitter child custody battle”. You can read the article, which quotes from Justice Pazaratz’s decision at some length, here.

Justice Pazaratz’s frank and searing comments about two parents using the legal system to duke it out over the custody of their child are unusual in British Columbia. On occasion, however, our court will write a decision aimed directly at the public, such as that in Earle v. Earle, where Madam Justice Martinson explained in plain language why arguments commonly made to cancel or reduce child support arrears do not work.

Decisions like these, while few and far between, are refreshing, and highlight that when it comes to disputes relating to children and divorce, the courts are rarely the best venue for them to play out. Unfortunately, it is all too common that one spouse drives the litigation in a blind rage toward an unrealistic or unattainable goal, with the other spouse being dragged along beside them. When children are involved, the reasonable spouse cannot simply walk away – instead, he or she ends up having to incur excessive legal fees or represent themselves in court, neither of which outcome is ideal (to put it mildly).

We can only hope that Justice Pazartz’s warnings will encourage all divorcing parents to act reasonably when it comes to their children.

Leisha Murphy
Leisha Murphy
Partner (Vancouver)
Connect Family Law

Leisha has practised exclusively in the area of family law since being called to the British Columbia Bar in 2010. Before opening Connect Family Law in 2015, she practiced in the family law group of a leading British Columbia law firm.