In the 2016 costs decision in the case of Jackson v. Mayerle, Justice Pazaratz of the Superior Court of Ontario makes stinging comments about the impact of high conflict litigation on a family of modest means.

He states:

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.

How did this happen? How does this keep happening?

What will it take to convince angry parents that nasty and aggressive litigation never turns out well?

If there was ever incentive to try to resolve issues out of court, here it is.  How does a family like this recover? The financial impact is devastating.  But so is the emotional impact.

How, after an ordeal like this, are parents to communicate about their children’s issues? What messages do they send their daughter about each other?  In this case, the father had asked the mother by email, early on, to try to work the issues out between them rather than going to court and spending $40,000 to $50,000 in lawyers.  That didn’t happen.  In the end, they spent ten times that much on the court process, and ended up with a result that they did not craft together, and where there is no buy-in from both parties.

I would imagine that if these parents could rewind history, they would take a different approach, and try to resolve their issues together. They would be willing to come to the table to make some significant compromises to promote peace and stop the financial devastation.