Just before the holidays, the Provincial Court of British Columbia made a ruling that could have a big impact on future family law cases. JP Boyd, a family law lawyer, wrote a summary of the ruling. You can read his full analysis on his blog, but this is the long and short of it.
The case involved a father who wanted the court to lower the amount of child support he had to pay and to cancel the outstanding debt from child support that he hadn’t paid. When you ask the court for something like that, you need to also provide “complete and accurate financial disclosure.” That is to say that the judge needs to fully understand your financial situation before they make a decision.
Over the course of a few court proceedings, the father didn’t give the judge the information they needed or asked for. Situations like this can be a big problem for the court system. Because the court doesn’t have what it needs to make a decision, the case drags on, costing everyone involved time and money.
This isn’t a new problem.
The recent Family Law Act addresses this problem by giving the court more power to punish people who don’t provide full disclosure, and in fact that was what was used in this ruling. The ultimate result of this case was that the father was ordered to pay the mother’s legal fees due to his failure to provide the information required by the court. The judge found that there was “an ongoing lack of complete disclosure [and some] of the information that has been disclosed has been shown to be materially misleading.”
There are two important factors to consider with this decision:
- The father’s disclosure was found to be not just incomplete, but misleading; and
- Since he never fully provided the information, and didn’t try to, the court wasn’t going to consider his reasons for not doing so.
A more comprehensive breakdown of the ruling is available on JP Boyd’s blog for anyone interested.