Family

Mother who cancelled First Communion celebration ordered to pay $12K in costs

An Ontario Superior Court justice has ordered $12,000 in costs on a full recovery basis against a mother whose move to cancel a First Communion celebration for one of her daughters the day before the event was scheduled to proceed has been called “shocking” and “egregious” by the court, says Toronto family lawyer Michael Stangarone.

Justice Alison Harvison Young also found the costs award could be set off against child support payments being made by the father, represented by Stangarone.

“The set off of costs against child support is a rare result and a necessary one given the wife’s pattern of conduct. There were legitimate concerns with respect to enforcement of the costs order,” says the family lawyer, a partner with MacDonald & Partners LLP.

In the costs endorsement, Young writes, “Courts should generally be reluctant to order such a set off because child support is intended for the benefit of the children, but it may be appropriate in certain circumstances.

“I agree that, given the mother’s pattern of conduct, there is serious reason for concern whether she will pay the costs awarded and whether the costs order will be enforceable,” says the decision. The set off will kick in on March 1 if the costs award is not paid in full by that time, it continues.

In the initial decision, the father was granted relief for various items related to the cancellation of the First Communion event, as he argued it represented larger issues including “a pattern of obstruction of telephone and actual access” and systematic denigration directed at him from the mother.

The day before the June 2014 celebration planned by the father, the mother suddenly cancelled the plans, despite never expressing an issue with the date prior to that time, says the decision.

“The two girls were scheduled for manicures and pedicures; cake and dress were arranged; and the father made reservations for 30 at a restaurant,” says the ruling.

The wife has not paid previously ordered costs of approximately $1,200, meant to reimburse the father for the costs he incurred as a result of the cancellation of the First Communion festivities, says the costs endorsement.

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