History

Sam and Erica were married for 14 years and lived together for 2 years prior to that.  Sam was an investment banker and Erica was in the process of developing her own business as an interior designer.  Erica kept part time hours and worked mostly while the children were in school.  The relationship was tumultuous and there were many difficulties in the marriage.  Sam sought out counseling at Erica’s strong insistence and his therapist advised Sam that he believed he suffered from a narcissistic personality disorder.  Sam followed through on ongoing therapy for years but the differences between the parties became to be too much.  When they finally separated their daughter was 14 years old and their son was 12 years old.  Their property issues were straightforward but Sam was having great difficulty in maintaining a relationship with the children.  The parties could not agree on Sam’s access to the children or how they would make major decisions for the children.  Each party accused the other of putting the children in the middle of the dispute.

Issues

The parties had to find a way to resolve the custody and access dispute, to divide their property and determine child and spousal support.

Resolution

Erica started a court application approximately 4 months after the parties separated.  She did not want to litigate with Sam and was fearful of the lengths she thought he might go to in order to win.  She nevertheless started the court proceeding after negotiations between lawyers failed.  She was unable to obtain basic disclosure from Sam and he would not pay reasonable child and spousal support.  She had to cease all direct communications with Sam and communicate only through an online program called My Family Wizard for the purpose of the children because Sam’s communications became quite abusive.  The parties had several motions, attended several Case Conferences as well as several Settlement Conferences before they attended a Trial Management Conference and were put on the trial list.  The morning of the trial they settled while at court, with the assistance of their lawyers.  They agreed Sam would see the children on alternate weekends and one evening per week.  Sam earned $600,000 and Erica had income of less than $20,000 per year.  Sam agreed to pay Erica monthly child support of $7,477 per month with the amount to be adjusted annually to reflect his income.  The parties also agreed to use a mediator/arbitrator and a summary process for the adjustment of child support each year, if necessary, so that they did not have to return to court.  Erica agreed, against her lawyer’s advice, to accept a lump sum payment of $400,000 in spousal support which was likely far less than what she was entitled to.  Erica reasoned this would allow her to stay in the home with the children and she wanted to avoid as much as possible any litigation with Sam in the future.  Erica kept the equity in the home as well as her RRSPs with a total value of $1,250,000.  Sam kept assets of approximately $850,000.  He had brought the sum of $300,000 into the marriage and was able to deduct this from the division of net family property.  The entire process took 3.5 years.