$500,000. That is how much a Canadian couple wasted on their custody battle involving their eight year old daughter. The parents are not multi-millionaires. They just really hated each other.The most astonishing part of this surreal case of unnecessary and overly-aggressive litigation, however, is the judge’s absolute demolition of the parties and their decision to squander half a million dollars on litigation.
Judge Alex Pazaratz asks a simple question that many family law judges and attorneys ask themselves, “How did this happen?” Judge Pazaratz continued,
Pause for a moment to consider the overwhelming tragedy of this case.These are nice, average people. Of modest means (now considerably more modest). They drive old cars and probably pinch pennies shopping at Costco.
And yet somehow, between them, they spent more than half a million dollars on lawyers ‘to have a judge tell us something we could arrange ourselves.’
No matter what costs order I make, the financial ruin cannot be undone. They’ll never recover. Their eight-year-old daughter’s future has been squandered.
Judge Pazaratz was particularly biting when he identified the source of all of the unnecessary litigation,
The (husband) had decided to move on without [the mother]. And now he wanted to take his half of the assets with him. The (wife) vowed to punish him for his betrayal; for threatening her world.
And (their daughter) got caught in the cross-fire.
Finally, Judge Pazaratz issued a warning future litigants,
All of this could have been avoided. All of this should have been avoided. Courts have an obligation to deliver that message, so parents will stop pretending that hard-ball custody litigation is ‘for the sake of the child.’
As a result of the mother’s unreasonable actions, Judge Pazaratz awarded the father $192,000 in attorney’s fees — about 1/3 of the father’s total attorney’s fees bill.
As a family law practitioner, I applaud Judge Pazaratz. Too many case get pushed on forever because of one party’s utter unreasonableness. Most of the these cases are child custody cases. It is a curious concept: spend thousands of dollars you don’t have to make the person you decided to have children with look worse than Satan incarnate and drag your child through hell, all in the name of the child’s best interest. I don’t think so. It is immensely frustrating and I am so glad the Judge Pazaratz pointed that out for litigation and attorneys to take note. Hopefully someone learned a lesson.