Hutcheon v. Bissonnette, 2017 CarsellOnt 1948 serves as a warning to those who choose not to comply with disclosure orders.
In the aforementioned case, the Applicant/Mother, Ms. Hutcheon, brought a motion in October 2016 to have the Respondent/Father, Mr. Bissonnette, found in contempt for not complying with a disclosure order, for a penalty to be imposed and for the Father’s pleadings in his motion to change to be struck out.
Family and Court History
The parties were in a common law relationship for three to four years. During that relationship, a daughter, Alice, was born, who was 33 years old at the date of the motion.
In January 1990, the parties consented to an order that the Mother have sole custody of Alice, and that the Father have access and pay $350.00 per month in child support.
In 1993, the Applicant moved from Ontario and returned in the year 1999.
The Ministry of Community & Social Services sent a letter to the Father in November 2014 that stated that the Father was in arrears of child support in the amount of $72,771.89, and in addition to that, interest had accrued in the amount of 129, 658.50, leaving the balance owed by him to be $202,4430.30.
The Father then commenced a motion to change the child support order, and requested an order that the child support he owed be fixed at nil.
The Father argued that when the Mother left Canada, she had made a deliberate choice to raise Alice without him and without his financial support, and that Alice would not benefit from a windfall of child support paid to the Mother now that Alice was in her thirties.
The Mother advised that she did not tell the Father where she was moving because the Father had not exercised access for four years prior to the move and had not provided his contact information.
At a case conference on June 8, 2015, Justice Price set a time table that dealt with time lines to provide financial disclosure and other documentation leading up to trial.
In accordance with that order, the Mother served the Father with a motion for contempt due to his failure to comply with the Request for Information.
A contempt motion was heard on December 8, 2015, and Justice Price found the father in contempt for intentionally not having provided all the information required in his order, dated June 8, 2015.
Justice Price also made the following order on December 8, 2015:
Mr. Bissonnette shall pay to Ms. Hutcheon $100 per day until the Order is fully complied with, which Ms. Hutcheon shall confirm in the form of a written confirmation from her solicitor. IN the event of a dispute as to whether there has been compliance, either party may return the motion to me by notice of return of motion to be heard by me between 9 and 10 a.m. on a date when I am presiding, to be arranged in advance with my judiciary secretary.
At a teleconference convened at the request of the Mother, Justice Price made a further order on January 27, 2016 for the Father to provide the information still outstanding from his order, dated June 8, 2015.
Motion for Contempt
At her motion in October, 2016, the Mother sought an order that the Father pay 24,900.00 (as of August 2016) pursuant to the order of Justice Price, dated December 8, 2015 was fully complied with. In the alternative, the Mother wanted an order dismissing the Father’s motion to change that he had brought to vary the 1990 child support order.
Taking into account how lengthy the proceedings had been and the partial disclosure that the Father had made, Justice Price held that it was not appropriate at that time to grant an order that the Father’s pleadings in his motion to change be struck, but that it was reasonable and appropriate to require the Father to pay the Mother 24,900.00 representing $100 per day from the date of his order, dated December 8, 2015, stating in part the following:
Mr. Bissonnette deliberately failed to take the steps required of him in responding to Ms. Hutcheon’s Request for Information. He thereby shifted the expense of obtaining the relevant documents to her. This is unacceptable. It created unnecessary expense for Ms. Hutcheon in her response to Mr. Bissonnette’s motion to change, and jeopardized her ability to respond to it effectively.
Justice Price further ordered that if the $24,900.00 was not paid within 30 days, the Mother could return her motion to have the Father’s pleadings struck.
Erika R. Jacobs