Many years ago, I found myself in a 5 year custody battle after ending my relationship. The family law process is one of the most difficult and stressful processes a person could ever experience. I would not wish this on my worst enemy! It made me sick and riddled with anxiety. It was nasty.
At the time, I had very little support and I had to deal with a very unreasonable ex-partner who used the ‘system’ to further abuse me. In what could have ended in perhaps two years, stretched out to half a decade.
I wasn’t in court for the best interest of my child, I was in court because he wanted to punish me and psychologically hurt me; I was there physically, for him to do anymore.
These tips are generated through the personal experience I had in the family law court system. This is not legal advice, this is simply a few tips I wish I had when I was dealing with my custody battle.
ALIENATION of AFFECTION
This was a common occurrence, my child’s father continued to negatively impact my child. Criticizing me in front of her and forcing her to choose who is the ‘better’ parent, leaving me to perform damage control every other weekend.
TIP: This process was tiring and extremely hurtful and I didn’t know there was an actually term for what he was doing. Now you know and you can sum up this action in three words, unfortunately judges are way too familiar with this act.
EVADING CHILD SUPPORT
Don’t do what I did! I finally received a judgment of $200 a month, when I understood he had a small business and 3 properties he was renting. My lawyer requested his T4 slips but he was able to maneuver his finances by selling his assets to family members. Each year he diverted child support by making himself look under-employed and did not submit his income which was stipulated in the court order.
It was too difficult for me (going to court made me physically ill) to take time off work, pay for a babysitter and hire a lawyer every year to fight this breach, so I didn’t…My child’s expenses were way more than $400 a month, but I tried and did the best that I could.
TIP: The court can impute income when there’s reason to believe that the other parent has more income than declared.
FAILURE TO PAY
During the 5 years, he didn’t pay child support for almost half of this time, nor my lawyers’ fees. Again, this was another tactic to maintain power and control over me. The court had ordered his payments through the Family Responsibility Office (third party) I tried to be patient, until I realized that he had no intent on paying for his responsibility.
He put me in an awful position, to deny my child extracurricular activities, birthday parties and/or school trips. Because I just didn’t have the money and then turned it around to convince my child that it was my fault.
He eventually paid the child support arrears once he was threatened to lose his license for non-payment by the Family Responsibility Office (FRO).
TIP: Notify the Family Responsibility Office when there are many missed payments, don’t wait too long, the process for them to follow up with him is longgg! Please document each interaction, noting the time, date, name of agent, and details of your conversation. FRO contact number – 416-326-1818
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