The End of Strife

Thursday, June 15, 2006

My story 13: aftermath of the rulings

A judge's decision includes reasons as well as orders. After the judge releases the decision, the lawyer who made the application to the court drafts the rulings into a document which is then signed by the judge and put into effect. Until that happens, for example, the Family Responsibility Office does not change the amount of child support it collects from someone's employer.

There were several details that the lawyers were supposed to resolve, but S and his lawyer refused to settle them. Then they refused to agree to the draft of the orders.

S appeals
Almost eight weeks after the December decision, S filed an appeal, claiming that the judge had made a decision four weeks earlier (not eight), and that he was within the 30-day period allowed to launch an appeal. He wanted the whole thing overturned.

He couldn't appeal then, however. He'd filed false information in his application when he said that the judge had made a decision on a particular date but that wasn't true at all.

The Court of Appeal wants to have a copy of the signed orders. S had blocked the signing of the orders, and continued to disagree about them right up until April when we went back to court, again, to get this resolved.

Meanwhile, legal costs
The judge issued his decision about legal costs in March. He awarded costs to me, and told S that he had to pay a large amount of money to my lawyer, in full, in 60 days. S didn't pay the money, and hasn't appealed the costs order as of today. It's too late to begin an appeal about that, now, and I understand he can't appeal it, anyway, unless he's paid the money in the first place or asked the court to grant him permission not to pay it until the appeal is heard. He hasn't done that, either.

In court in April
In April, we went to court, again, and the judge heard from both sides about the drafted orders and a couple of other matters, which the lawyers ended up agreeing about in the judge's presence. The judge released his decision from this attendance in early May, and again agreed with what Ms. C had presented.

Still no signed orders
The orders were drafted, again, and again, S has opposed them. We're scheduled to be back in court at the end of June. Maybe the judge will settle this once and for all at that time! I hope that he'll recognize that every time he gives S any leeway, S takes it, and that he acts to his own advantage, and to my detriment.

S plans further action
S has also scheduled another appearance in July, this time to have the judge's decision changed on the basis that S can't afford to pay his arrears. He's consulted a financial advisor who has assured him that his lifestyle is moderate and appropriate, and that he can't take on any additional debt. Moreover, he shouldn't be paying so much spousal support. S is also hoping to have me chaged with contempt of court because, he says, my e-mail to D last November "disparages" him, which is contrary to the custody order. He hopes that I will either be jailed or that I will be severely fined, and unable to pay the fine, and then be jailed; and he hopes that he won't have to pay his arrears because of my disparaging remarks.

In the first place, Ms. C assures me that S won't be able to get out of paying his arrears. The financial advisor isn't important. The question that needs to be asked is about the lifestyle that's appropriate for someone who owes a vast amount of unpaid child support, not whether his lifestyle is appropriate for a middle-aged professional.

Secondly, Ms. C says that my e-mail was not disparaging, and that I sent it just a few days before D's 18th birthday. It did not cause the deterioration in her relationship with her father. S has already acknowledged that he frequently discusses his legal troubles with the children, which is grounds for contempt. Finally, she says, the court does not put single mothers in jail for writing e-mail like this. It shows more about S than anything else, she says.

Third, and best of all, this motion will probably not be heard in any case. S hasn't paid his legal costs. He's in breach of a court order, and won't be allowed to bring another action until he's paid his costs. The Court of Appeal will hear about his application for an appeal just before we're to appear in the lower court on his motion to change the arrears and ongoing support. Whether they allow his appeal to go forward or not, they won't let him proceed without paying his legal costs outstanding, and Ms. C will also ask them to order him to pay "security for costs". That is, to pay a sum, into her trust account, to be held against any future costs award he has to pay, to ensure that he can, indeed, pay the expenses of litigating. She will also ask the lower court to require him to pay security for costs there, too. She's had great success with this in the past, and is confident that it will succeed again. S won't be able to do anything, anywhere, until he's paid his legal costs and his securities.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed!