Estate & Family Law Blog

High conflict divorce can turn ugly, but alternatives exist


It is to be expected that two people are not going to be on the best terms when their marriage is ending. Unfortunately, too many people allow animosity to permeate every aspect of a divorce and show disregard for the feelings of others involved. An extreme example of what can happen during an ugly divorce made news recently in British Columbia.

An unfortunate man found himself in a financially unmanageable position after a divorce. He had been ordered to pay support to both his ex-wife and his two children by her, and he was also paying support for a child he fathered subsequent to his divorce with a woman to whom he had been engaged. The second woman was requesting both retroactive and ongoing support for their son. His total monthly support obligations were to be $8,000.

To add insult to injury, his ex-wife asked that the court find him in contempt for failing to meet the terms of a previous court order and fine him an additional $10,000. The judge eventually dismissed these last issues. According to the man’s current wife, he had been alienated from all his children, had spent over $300,000 in legal fees, was bankrupt, had spent time in jail for being unable to pay support the previous year, and was in danger of having his driver’s licence and his passport taken away as punishment for being behind on support payments. Sadly, the man decided he was out of options and chose to take his own life.

The tragic outcome of this case is not typical, by any means. However, it does illustrate the position in which a person can be put when no thought to the feelings of others is shown during a divorce. In British Columbia, there are options to a litigated divorce. Taking advantage of collaborative methods may yield far healthier and more satisfactory results than a battle in court.

Source: National Post, “B.C. man pleads for family court reform in suicide note“, Christie Blatchford, March 28, 2017

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