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Self-representation may have led to unworkable divorce settlement

The financial cost of ending a marriage can be high sometimes. It is difficult to blame a person for looking for ways to curb the expenses of a divorce. One unfortunate man from the Oshawa area has been saddled with a support obligation that is the stuff of nightmares, and his decision to cut costs may have been partially to blame.

In June 2012, the man and his now ex-wife were in family court settling their divorce. At that time, he chose to represent himself, a decision he now regrets. The presiding judge determined that the man's employment situation had not changed, even though he had sold his 50 percent share of the company for which he worked. Ruling that the man was intentionally under-employed, the judge based awards for child and spousal support on an imputed income. As a result, the man has been paying more in support than he earns each month.

Since that time, he has made several attempts to have the amount lowered to a more affordable level, based on his actual income. Each time, his ex-wife filed a motion for summary judgment in an effort to dismiss the case for a lack of change to the situation. Though the various judges dismissed the motions each time, they have held up the process, meaning the original settlement is still in place. The man is now approximately $500,000 behind on payments, had his passport seized at one time, and is in danger of losing his driver's licence.

It is impossible to say if things would have turned out differently had the man originally gone to court with the support of a lawyer. However, professional representation during a divorce in Oshawa might open up new avenues for resolving a dispute, such as mediation, or negotiation. If court cannot be avoided, a lawyer's experience may help to bring about a reasonable settlement as efficiently as possible.

Source: National Post, "Ontario father paying twice his after-tax monthly income to his ex-wife", Christie Blatchford, April 4, 2017

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