September 30, 2023

Starting with this quote from “The Tiger’s Bones”, The Tiger’s Bones and Different Performs for Youngsters (Viking Press, 1974), these had been the court docket’s opening phrases in a 370-paragraph ruling in a current case known as R.L. v. M.F.

“Nothing is free”, wrote the British poet, Ted Hughes. “All the things must be paid for. For each revenue in a single factor, cost in another factor.” So it was right here, for the events to this case. Every made choices that they thought finest for themselves and their household. Every determination exacted a value, to them, their partner and their household. That value is, partly, being measured out on this determination. In some ways, it’s a expensive one for this complete household.

A few of the selections the court docket refers to associated to profession selections, parenting types and approaches, and the best way they every handled what turned out to be an acrimonious divorce.  All of it culminated in an 11-day trial the place the court docket was requested to untangle numerous points together with parenting time, spousal help, youngster help, and division of property.

The events had separated after 14.5 years of marriage and two youngsters collectively.  The daddy, who was a banker, now earned about $2 million a 12 months. Nonetheless, because the court docket concluded, his excessive success “exacted a heavy worth” in his relationships with the mom and their two daughters.  He was typically absent as the kids grew up.

Furthermore, when issues began to go badly within the marriage, he selected to remain in what the court docket known as “a strain cooker residence state of affairs” for 22 months post-separation; this not solely spiked the extent of battle, however doubtless had a profound impression on his relationship along with his daughters as nicely.

The mom, for her half, made some unlucky choices as nicely; many of those drove up the trial value and period.  For instance, from the monetary facet of untangling their affairs, the mom selected deliberate underemployment:  Though she was a medical physician who had important incomes capability, she selected to work solely part-time though her teenage youngsters now not wanted her full-time caregiving.   This led the court docket to scrutinize her income-earning skill, and finally impute an annual earnings of $550,000 to her.

Troublingly, in her trial proof earlier than the court docket she additionally selected to assault the daddy’s character:  Whereas he was admittedly a less-than-perfect partner and dad or mum, she portrayed him as abusive, controlling and harmful – allegedly exacerbated by his stints with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in Bosnia and Afghanistan.  At numerous factors she claimed that he had killed males in Afghanistan as a sniper, or else utilizing man-to-man fight, and that she now feared he would kill her.  However the court docket discovered these violent characterizations and fears had been merely not borne out by the proof. Extra regarding was that the kids had taken on the mom’s hyperbolic views and fears of him, which she did little to dispel, even after the daddy took steps to restore his wounded relationships with them.

Thus the court docket was left untangle the often-conflicting testimony from every partner, and evaluate it to the reviews from the knowledgeable assessor, Dr. Radovanovic.  In the middle of making its ruling on credibility, the court docket summarized a few of the questionable elements of the proof this manner: 

Causes for Scepticism About Every Social gathering’s Proof

150      From all the above, it may be surmised that I’ve motive to be skeptical of each events’ arguments about their credibility compared to the opposite. My causes embrace:

For the Father:

a. The Father informed Dr. Radovanovic that he by no means used adware within the House. But the proof is evident that he bought a adware equipment that included each adware and anti-spyware. The youngsters and the Mom had been conscious of this truth, which he makes an attempt to downplay.

b. The youngsters informed Dr. Radovanovic that they overheard the Father berate the Mom. He known as that rhetoric “playful”. Within the circumstances of this case, that rationale will not be plausible.

c. The Father complained at trial that the Mom was undermining his try to reconcile with the kids throughout his summer time keep in Muskoka by doing a few of the driving. But he requested that she do the driving. …

d. The Father claimed that the one babysitter that the Mom would permit for the kids was the Grandmother. He cited that alleged truth as proof of her degree of management over the kids. But the proof at trial confirmed that the Mom had recruited numerous non-family member babysitters.

For the Mom:

a. Most of my considerations relating to the Mom’s proof pertains to her exaggerated and even hyperbolic descriptions of the Father, each out and in of court docket. Among the many examples are the next:

(i) In her consumption varieties for Dr. Radovanovic, the Mom unjustifiably described the Father in phrases that denoted a Rambo-like character. She wrote that he has a “potential for bodily abuse and violent behaviour” in the direction of the kids. She went on to talk of her bodily worry of his purported potential for violence. She ascribed this partly to a brutal and murderous time period of service with the CAF. These claims are bereft of any corroborating proof and forcefully rejected by the Father. … 

(iii) Equally, as set out above, the Mom spoke of the Father “stalking” her and the kids within the House between the time of separation and his shifting out. But a lot of what I heard gave the impression of woeful and determined makes an attempt to interact the kids, and A. specifically, about why that they had distanced themselves from him. There have been occasions that he was weepy, each with them and Dr. Radovanovic, which they perceived as threatening. Dr. Radovanovic, who witnessed one such interplay, didn’t share that view.

(iv) One other extravagant description of the Father provided by the Mom in an electronic mail to Dr. Radovanovic was that of “grasp liar and manipulator: expertise he has attained from his profession within the navy and banking sectors”. Amongst his purported expertise is the flexibility to “…manipulate, face up to and administer intense questioning”. That actually was not the impression that he gave at trial. Whereas he didn’t fold beneath cross-examination, he was not masterful both, as a few of the feedback discovered elsewhere in these causes present. Additional, there isn’t any proof that he obtained the form of coaching that she described, which seems to be the stuff of grasp spies. … 

b. In contemplating these excessive allegations, I can not ignore the truth that the events lived collectively in a strain cooker of a House for twenty-two months after separating. But the Father by no means laid an inappropriate hand on or threatened both the Mom or the kids. …

e. There’s merely no proof earlier than the court docket that the Father ever posed a bodily menace to any of the Mom or the kids. Additional, as Dr. Radovanovic identified and I noticed throughout the trial, the Father can merely show an intense look.

Finally, the court docket dominated that whereas neither dad or mum was outright meaning to mislead the court docket, their respective proof was “filtered” via the lens of their sturdy, subjective views.  And whereas neither of their proof was to be universally favoured over the opposite’s, court docket concluded that specifically the mom’s allegations of household violence and danger of hurt by the daddy couldn’t be taken at face worth.   

With these conclusions in thoughts, the court docket went on to make its numerous rulings on the events’ multi-faceted disputes, in a protracted and really detailed judgment.  Adverting again to the theme of the mother and father making deliberate selections, the court docket pronounced: 

I add that each mother and father have chosen to interact on this very costly, protracted and corrosive litigation.

Full textual content of the choice: R.L. v M.F, 2023 ONSC 2885 (CanLII)