SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS CAN BE AN ADVANTAGE, EVEN IF YOU NEED TO GO TO COURT ANYWAY
I want to discuss two smaller cases this week. The first is Mead v. Lojk 2014 ONSC 3943. In this case, the Mother and Father signed Minutes of Settlement in 2013 that states that the Father would have unsupervised weekend access to the child, born in 2012. The Mother now states that the access should be supervised because:
- The Mother claims that the Father admitted drug use
- The Father moved out of his parents’ allegedly because of his refusal to deal with his drug use;
- The Father has shown little interest in seeing child since August 2013.
First, the Honourable Justice Ronald M. Laliberte Jr. held that agreements between the parents is an important factor in deciding issues of child custody and access, but the supreme consideration is the child’s best interests.
His honour held in favour of the Mother. Factors considered when making the decision were:
- Child was very young
- Doctor’s report shows that child developed severe diaper rash and yeast infection while under Father’s care
- Drug use is a serious issue; The court can make an adverse inference in the Father’s refusal to take a drug test or provide photos of his apartment;
In general, Minutes of Settlement support the Father, but it also shows that the Mother, in general, was willing to allow the Father greater access. The court can draw an inference that the Mother’s motives is a genuine concern for the child and not spite against the Father.
In Vermette v. Morrissette, 2014 ONSC 3944 the issue was spousal support. The Husband earned approximately $127,968. The Wife failed at several minimum wage jobs because she suffered from anxiety disorder. The Husband admitted that spousal support payable and agreed to pay spousal support at $2,031 per month commencing February 1, 2013. He also paid many of the Wife’s household costs.
The Honourable Justice Philips ordered that the Husband should pay $3000.00 in spousal support plus the household costs. Justice Phillips also ordered that the support should have commenced in September 2012. What is important, however, is that the past spousal support amount was set at $2031 per month instead of $3000 per month
In the first case, the Mother’s signature on the Minutes of Settlement made her concerns more credible for the court. In the second case, the Husband reduced the amount he was required to pay because he made a credible attempt at settling the issues. The courts may award parties who genuinely try to resolve issues through negotiation.