A fresh perspective on divorce, spousal support, child support, parenting after separation and everything family law

Divorce: Shouts & Murmers

 The last few weeks have been full of interesting news items about divorce.  Here are a couple to check out:

Nick Downes - Published in the New Yorker January 17, 2000

The New Yorker:

In a recent “Shouts & Murmers” Cora Frazier wrote about divorcing in exchange for working  from home and getting rid of the daily commute.  It is a hillarious read, especially on your daily commute to work (after a morning of bickering with your spouse):
5% of [Americans] surveyed said they would actually be willing to divorce their spouse if that meant they could stop commuting and work from home instead.
Mainstreet.com.

You see, this was the choice the survey offered me, as I understood it: I could continue to take a forty-seven-minute train ride (or a thirty-eight-minute ferry ride) and a twelve-minute subway ride to and from work every day while remaining your wife, or I could work from home and cease to be married to you. I have chosen the latter.

You probably have a few questions, as I did. For example, will this home be our home, where you also live? Given the fact that we will no longer be husband and wife, this is a complication. I asked the surveyor this question, but she had already moved on to “Would you give up manicures if it meant you didn’t have to commute?” (No.)

www.perezhilton.com:

Perez Hilton always posts interesting tidbits about celebrity divorces.  Kim Kardashian’s divorce is proceeding with depositions, and Kris Humprhies is set to testify.  Winnie Cooper is getting a divorce (not from Kevin Arnold) and has given some reasons why.

 Supreme Court of British Columbia:

mentioned  earlier this month, the case of  Aquilini v. Aquilini is proceeding in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.  A decision was published yesterday, penned by the Honourable Madam Justice Stromberg-Stein, on the application of Francesco Aquilini to seal the  court file in his divorce proceedings including, but not limited to, reasons for judgment, court orders, affidavits, and transcripts.

Ms. Aquilini argued that the public interst in having open court proceedings should override the privacy interests of Mr. Aquilini and family.  A leading court decision in this regard is Edmonton Journal v. Alberta, which  states:

In summary, the public interest in open trials and in the ability of the press to provide complete reports of what takes place in the courtroom is rooted in the need (1) to maintain an effective evidentiary process; (2) to ensure a judiciary and juries that behave fairly and that are sensitive to the values espoused by the society; (3) to promote a shared sense that our courts operate with integrity and dispense justice; and (4) to provide an ongoing opportunity for the community to learn how the justice system operates and how the law being applied daily in the courts affects them.

 In this case, an interim order was granted sealing the file, pending the outcome of a two day application for a permanent sealing order (to be heard in August 2012), to protect personal and financial information fo Mr. Aquilini, that he believes may otherwise be open to competitors and news outlets.

 Let me know if you run across any interesting divorce articles to share!

 

Family Law Act: March 18, 2013

I am looking forward to lots of things in 2013…for example:

The Family Law Act is coming into force on March 18, 2012 – it has just been announced.  The new legislation will substantially change family law in British Columbia and it will replace the Family Relations Act.

Divorce: how do I pop the question?

Have you seen Issac’s lip-dub marriage proposal?

To date, over 13 million people have seen this choreographed lip-dub marriage proposal.

In response, the people at Second City have come up with the first ever live lip-dub divorce proposal.

What do you think of the lip-dub divorce proposal?

Generally, you should not broach the topic of divorce through a lip-dub divorce proposal (unless your spouse has a really, really, really great sense of humor).

So how do you broach the topic of divorce (if you do not think the YouTube musical theater approach is appropriate)?

In Harriet Lerner, Ph.D’s book “The Dance of Connection: How to Talk to Someone When You’re Mad, Hurt, Scared, Frustrated, Insulted, Betrayed, or Desperate” she provides some guidance:

To say, “If these things don’t change, I’m not sure I can stay in this relationship, ” is to voice the ultimate bottom line. People threaten to divorce or break up in the heat of anger, which isn’t helpful or fair. Nor should you bring up divorce as an attempt to punish, scare, shape up, or shake up the other person. And surely you shouldn’t feel compelled to mention divorce simply because it passes through your head now and then. Many married folks entertain fantasies about divorce yet are far from acting on it.

That said, talking about divorce is important if you’re thinking seriously about it — even ambivalently. If you’re going back and forth about it in your mind, you need to consider sharing your struggle with your partner. If you do eventually terminate the marriage, a partner will be better able to handle a loss that can be anticipated and planned for. Everyone has the right to know just how high the stakes are if they choose to continue to behave as usual. You owe your partner honesty about a matter that so deeply affects both of you.

The book gives some food for thought about how to deal with difficult conversations, and also a few important caveats:

Obviously , we should never mention divorce (or anything else for that matter) if there is any possibility that a partner will become violent or out of control. In such a case, we first need to seek appropriate help and ensure our physical safety. Nor is it wise to begin a serious talk about divorce if we suspect that a partner might do something sneaky with money that would jeopardize a fair and equitable financial settlement. In such a case, it’s wise to first consult an attorney. Finally, if you’ve already made up your mind to leave, it’s not fair to involve your partner in conversations that imply you’re still willing to work on the marriage.

In terms of serving a partner with a Notice of Family Claim (a.k.a. divorce papers) the same goes – it is generally best to broach the subject of the court action prior to serving your spouse with the documents (unless the above caveats apply).

Divorce: how much are the Vancouver Canucks worth?

The answer is – we may never find out.

As reported by Neal Hall in the Vancouver Sun:

Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini has filed an application in court to keep the team’s financial information private during his divorce case.

A little background…

Francesco Aquilini is involved in divorce proceedings with his wife, Taliah Aquilini, in a Supreme Court of British Columbia file opened on February 22, 2012.

The Aquilini family has substantial assets, including an ownership interest in the Vancouver Canucks.  The team was valued at $300 million dollars by Forbes (calculated in November 2011).

Of course a valuation in Forbes is not adequate information to rely upon in dividing family assets upon marital breakdown.

What documents and information can I get about family assets in my divorce proceedings?

In divorce proceedings, a spouse is entitled to substantial financial disclosure – far more financial information than an estimate of value from Forbes.

A spouse is entitled to a Financial Statement, in Form F8 – which is a sworn statement setting out the income, assets and liabilities of the the other spouse, along with supporting documentation (such as tax returns and property assessments).

A spouse can also employ the Supreme Court Family Rules to gain more in depth access to information regarding both family assets, and other assets of the spouse.

Some of the methods to get financial information in a divorce proceeding include (but are not limited to):

  • Examinations for discovery;
  • Demands for production of documents (including demanding documents directly from the corporation/ business in which the spouse has an interest);
  • Examination and inspection of documents;
  • Discovery by interrogatories;
  • Examination of witnesses; and
  • Expert reports on financial issues.
You wrote in a previous blog that divorce files are only accessible to specific people…why does Francesco Aquilini need a further court order?

Divorce files are generally only accessible by the spouses and their respective legal counsel.

However, court proceedings are usually opened to the public, and court decisions are also made public.

Pursuant to Rule 5-1 of the Supreme Court Family Rules, the Supreme Court of British Columbia can make an order sealing financial information, if:

 the court considers that public disclosure of any information filed under this rule would be a hardship on the person in respect of whom the information is filed

Court documents, filed in the above noted application, set out:

One very prominent business owned by the Aquilini family is the Vancouver Canucks. Serious harm would flow to that business if its financial information were made publicly available.

The application brought by Mr. Aquilini should be heard in the Supreme Court of British Columbia (Vancouver Registry) on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, according to NBC Sports.

NOTE – If you need to find a courtroom or hearing time, daily lists can be found on Court Services Online.

Disclosure: rehab and medical records

Can my spouse get access to my medical charts in a family law proceeding? What about a counselor’s file or records from rehab?

The answer is maybe.

In the recent court decision of K.A.P. v. K.A.M.P. Justice Tindale of the Supreme Court of British Columbia considered a husband’s application for production of the following documents relating to his wife:

  • records from the Paradise Valley Wellness Centre (which is the treatment centre the wife attended);
  • clinical records from the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia; and
  • disclosure of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police file involving the Wife and an incident where she was arrested for impaired driving, dangerous driving and driving over .08.

The wife consented to provide the police disclosure.

In regard to the disclosure of  medical and treatment records, the court considered the arguments of both the husband and wife.

In support of his argument for production of the documents, the husband relied on a previous court decision in which confidential records in the hands of a third party were ordered produced as they were clearly relevant on an issue between the parties and the court concluded that “the interest of the children and the interest of justice outweigh her interest in privacy”.

The wife argued that “the test for the production of documents is whether or not the documents can prove or disprove a material fact.”  The wife argued that as the husband had previously agreed to joint custody and joint guardianship (with knowledge of her “problems”) there was nothing to be gained by disclosure of confidential documents.

The court ruled in favor of the husband, and in favor of disclosing the documents, giving the following reasons:

  1. “In my view, given the long-standing difficulties that the respondent has had with depression and substance abuse and the fact the respondent wants to be relieved of the necessity of having a nanny living in her residence, it is clearly relevant, necessary and material to have as much information available to make this determination”; and
  2. “I also conclude that the interests of the children outweigh any privacy interest the respondent might have.”

Note to family law litigants: your medical history could be considered producible in court proceedings.

Court Services Online: the Real Housewives of Vancouver

"The Real Housewives"

I recently saw a commercial for an episode of the Real Housewives of Vancouver and one line caught my attention: Jody was going to serve Mary with legal papers?

I did not pay too much attention to when the episode was airing.  Instead, I was interested in who was suing who, and why.

I went to Court Services Online to see what, if any, lawsuits had been filed against Mary.

Court Services Online is a very useful tool.  It allows you to e-search parties by name to check if there are any lawsuits.

You can complete these searches for free!  In many cases, if you pay an additional charge (usually $6.00) you can view the court file.

So, I searched Mary Zilba, to see if there were any lawsuits filed by the cast of the Real Housewives of Vancouver.
 
The results came back, there were two lawsuits with Mary Zilba as a party:
 
  1. A family law proceeding from 2011 (note – you generally cannot get access to family law proceeding documents online); and
  2. A small claims proceeding from 1998.
There were no recent lawsuits, and no lawsuits filed by a cast member of the Real Housewives of Vancouver.
 
Out of interest, I searched the names of the rest of the “Real Housewives”.
 
Here are some of the results:
 

What are some more practical uses of Court Services Online?

"Use the "Search Civil" feature to search for civil lawsuits"

Example of situations where this may be useful:

  • Has your blind date from E-Harmony been involved in a messy lawsuit/lawsuits?
  • Who is the person claiming that your grandfather’s estate owes her money? Are they litigious? Would they likely sue the estate?
  •  Has your spouse’s business been involved in lawsuits that have not been disclosed to you?