THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE A. PAZARATZ
“We are both reasonable people and I really think we can work this out without spending 40 to 50 thousand dollars a piece in lawyer fees only to have a judge tell us something we could arrange ourselves. Please I am begging you to be reasonable.”
1. That was August 8, 2012. An e-mail by a father wanting to see more of his young daughter, written more than a year after separation. Months before this court case started.
2. Fast forward three and a half years.
“This trial has been financially disastrous for both parties.”
3. That was February 10, 2016. A concluding statement in the mother’s written costs submissions following a 36 day trial.
4. The father wound up spending $300,000.00 on lawyers. But he won sole custody. So now he wants a quarter of a million dollars in costs.
5. The mother says he’s asking for too much and she can’t afford it anyway, because she spent more than $200,000.00 on her own legal fees.
6. There are many factors to be considered in deciding costs. I will review them below.
7. But pause for a moment to consider the overwhelming tragedy of this case.
8. These are nice, average people. Of modest means (now considerably more modest.) They drive old cars and probably pinch pennies shopping at Costco.
9. And yet somehow, between them, they spent more than half a million dollars on lawyers “to have a judge tell us something we could arrange ourselves.”
10. No matter what costs order I make, the financial ruin cannot be undone. They’ll never recover. Their eight year old daughter’s future has been squandered.
11. How did this happen? How does this keep happening?
12. What will it take to convince angry parents that nasty and aggressive litigation never turns out well?
13. The family profile:
a. The Applicant husband is 45.
b. The Respondent wife is 48.
c. Their daughter Paige is eight years old.
d. The parties started living together in 1997.
e. They were married April 22, 2004.
f. The separated July 26, 2011.
14. On January 5, 2016 I released a 204 page judgement following a (needlessly) lengthy trial. Among the issues:
a. Custody designation.
b. Time sharing schedule.
c. Numerous specific parenting issues, including selection of school and educational program.
d. Child support.
e. Spousal support.
f. Imputation of income to Respondent.
g. Equalization of net family property.
h. Resulting trust claim regarding property which became the matrimonial home.
15. I have now reviewed lengthy written costs submissions which were invited at the end of my judgement.