Most people generally understand the importance of following and complying with court orders. They are, after all, legally binding. However, the Ontario Court of Appeal recently issued a decision demonstrating this importance and outlining the consequences of a failure to comply with an order in a family law context

A History of Ignoring Deadlines

The husband in question was appealing a July 2017 order from a Superior Court of Justice judge, which had allowed the wife to proceed to an uncontested trial.

Since January 2016, the husband had failed to meet several requests of the court, including financial disclosure. He was asked to provide the information in January, April, July, October and November 2016. He failed to do so on each occasion.

On December 9, 2016, the trial judge ordered the husband to produce the information required and to pay support payments that were in arrears. The husband had still not taken any action by February 2017, resulting in the trial judge giving him until March 2017. Again, the deadline came and went without action.

Moving To An Uncontested Trial

The wife asked the court to allow her to proceed with an uncontested trial in May 2017. However, the trial judge gave the husband one last chance to cooperate. The May deadline passed without the husband complying with the order. As a result, the wife again asked the court to allow an uncontested trial, which was granted in October 2017. It was only at this time that the husband took some steps to comply with the court’s orders.

The husband alleged there was a mix up in early proceedings and that he had earlier filed an affidavit stating his company had paid the respondent amounts over what he was ordered to pay. His position was that the judge had not taken that information into account and had not provided him with notice of the Superior Court’s decision to move through trial without him.

The Court Of Appeal’s Decision

The Court of Appeal found that the husband had no right to notice, and it would have been reasonable for the wife to assume that no disclosure would be coming given the husband’s lengthy history of being unwilling to comply.

The Court also addressed the issue of the affidavit, stating there had been no opportunity to cross-examine its contents. Furthermore, the affidavit also made it seem as though the husband had unilaterally reduced the amount of his monthly support payments.

The Court found no error in the earlier decision, concluding that the husband had been given numerous chances to comply with the orders and meet his obligations. He had failed to do so until the very last minute, and when he did act, failed to comply with all of the orders. The court determined he “remains in serious violation of a number of court orders.”

In issuing a decision in favour of the wife, the court also took time to stress that the delays in the matter were the result of the husband’s refusal to cooperate.

Borden Family Law has been helping our clients with family law needs for over 17 years. We have the experience and ability to help you move through the difficult process of divorce and spousal support, as well as all other family law needs. We can help you and your partner work through your disputes regardless of the current stage or your relationship or legal dispute. Please contact us online or by phone at 905-597-6090 to talk today.