Man must pay $490K to ex-wife for her costs in fighting for support
The Ontario Court of Appeal is seen in Toronto on Monday, April 8, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel)
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, June 26, 2019 8:51PM EDT
TORONTO — A wealthy man who caused his ex-wife considerable financial pain in their divorce proceedings will have to pay almost half-a-million dollars to cover the costs she racked up during the hard-fought battle.
In a decision Wednesday, the Ontario Court of Appeal refused to allow David Knight to appeal the unusually high costs in favour of his ex, Christine MacDonald Knight.
The trial judge, the appellate court said, made the award following a 13-day trial on the basis that Knight had acted unreasonably in his litigation approach.
"(David Knight's ) tactics, coupled with his unacceptable offers to settle, leads me to conclude that his goal was to ensure that (she) suffer a considerable financial defeat even if she enjoyed success at trial," Superior Court Justice Clifford Nelson said in his order last fall.
The couple, both in their mid-30s at the time, met online in 2009 and moved in together in Cobourg, Ont., in 2010 and married in July 2011. They had a child in June 2012 in addition to her two children from a prior relationship. They separated three years after their marriage.
Much of the trial regarding equalization of assets, and spousal and child support turned on interpretation of a marriage contract they had signed before tying the knot.
"Costs in this case have been extensive," said Nelson, who awarded MacDonald Knight $490,000 to cover them. Nelson also handed responsibility for ensuring Knight made the payment to the Family Responsibility Office.
Knight sought leave to appeal, arguing the amount was out of whack with the litigation and involvement of the provincial agency. He also argued some amounts had been wrongly included.
The Appeal Court, however, refused to hear the appeal.
"The trial judge was cognizant that the costs award was high," the higher court said. "However, the trial judge placed the blame entirely at the feet of (the ex-husband)."
In its analysis of the leave request, the Appeal Court said MacDonald Knight had spent $265,000 on legal fees and another $228,000 on an accounting expert. Much of the amount, the higher court said, was related to her "chasing disclosure, which was a significant problem for (her)."
"(MacDonald Knight) delivered an offer to settle prior to each stage and demonstrated she was prepared to settle the case on a reasonable basis," the Appeal Court noted.
In refusing to hear the costs appeal, the higher court said Knight had failed to show Nelson had made any serious mistakes.
"The appeal to proportionality is nothing other than an attempt to have this court second-guess the quantum of the award," the court said, adding Nelson made no error in handing responsibility for enforcement of the award to the Family Responsibility Office.
The court also ordered him to pay another $20,000 to her for the costs of the failed appeal.