Why is divorce so expensive in Ontario? While the popular answer is that lawyers make it so, but divorce is expensive in Ontario because of unreasonable parents. Earlier this summer, there was yet another decision from the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, where the parents spent over $100,000 on a 10-day trial. This trial was to interpret the final order from the last trial, five-years ago.
Divorce is Expensive in Ontario Because of Unreasonable Parents
This couple separated in 2012 and went to trial in 2015, which was to resolve all of their outstanding issue. For the past five-years, both the mother and the father have continued to argue over everything. Now eight years apart and with children, ages nine and eight, they went back to Court.
These were the major issues: first, the Court Order said that the March break would split in half. The mother thought the half-way point would be at 5pm, while the father thought the half-way point would be noon.
Second, the Court Order provided that each parent would have two continuous weeks in July and August. As this only covered 28 out of the 31 days in the month, they couldn’t agree what to do with the extra three-days.
Third, the Court Order provided that the father would have the children for three weekends each month. He wanted the first, second and third weekends. The mother wanted the second weekend each month, not the fourth weekend.
The father picked up the children from school at 3pm, to start his access weekend. The mother wanted the father to pick up the kids from her house at 5pm to start the access weekend. The father wanted to end his access weekend at 6pm and the mother wanted to pick-up the children at 5pm.
These were just some of the issues that frequently resulted in police being called to enforce the Court Order. After five years of constant fighting, they have yet another Court Order which now interprets the first.
Why Does a Divorce Cost so Much in Ontario?
A quick review of some Ontario Superior Court decisions demonstrates that this couple is not unique. See my blog-post on a middle-class couple that spent over $500,000 on legal fees. It is difficult when emotion runs high, but in this instance, the couple has been separated for eight-years.
The Judge pointed this out by saying that each parent refused to look at the issues from the perspective of the other. And more importantly, neither parent was acting in the best interests of the children. There is no way you argue that calling the police to resolve an issue over a pick-up time is in anyone’s best interest.
The role of the lawyer is to represent the client and often times the client won’t listen to reasonable advice. The cost of a divorce rises exponentially with the level of unreasonableness with each parent.
How to Reduce the Cost of a Divorce in Ontario?
It is very difficult to do at the time, but take a step back and think about what you are trying to accomplish. In this instance, the parents could have put together a list of all the issues. Then flip a coin and go back and forth resolving each issue.
Look at this another way. The father ended up spending over $95,000 in legal fees. This is after he was ordered to pay costs of $58,000 because the mother was successful at the 2015 trial. The mother was then ordered to pay costs of $37,000 on this trial because the father was successful.
While I don’t have the costs from the first trial in 2015, this couple has spent at least $200,000 on lawyers over the past five years. If each person looked at by saying, I will save myself $100,000 and give in on a few hours over March break, that may resolve some of the issues.
$100,000 over the past five years could have been spent far more effectively on an investment property, an RESP for the children, vacations or boats. Or anything else you want to spend money on.
Some Advice to Lower Costs of Divorce
Divorce is expensive in Ontario because of unreasonable parents. To reduce the cost, first, reduce the level of animosity. This may be hard but it can be accomplished by not calling police over every little issue.
Second, prior to making yet another Court application, ask yourself if there is a better way to spend that money.
Third, if you still want to make that Court application, ask yourself if the children will be better off with you spending your energy on another trial.
Contact Hearty Law for a free one-hour virtual consultation. Hearty Law will represent you on any family law matter and will answer all your questions on divorce, separation, custody, access, child support, spousal support and property distribution.
Hearty Law serves Toronto, Ottawa and surrounding communities.