Breach of Court Order: D.C.A v A.E.C. 2022 ONSC 1002

Sunshiaa Aiteeneyas

December 20, 2023

This is an interesting case that demonstrates an effective use of Rule 1(8) of the Family Law Rules, where the court can order costs for violating a court order. The order explicitly stated that the parties should limit communications between each other, but the Respondent did exactly what was asked not to do in the court order by sending harassing emails and text messages to the other party. 

Here’s the facts of the case: 

D.C.A., the applicant father, and A.E.C. are the parents of E.A.C who was less than 3 years of age at the time. This is a high conflict case involving parenting and other issues. The court granted several temporary orders as a result of motions brought by each of the parties. 

The order provided that the father’s parenting time be supervised by the Children’s Aid Society of Hamilton or Thrive Counselling. Additional terms were imposed, namely: 

  1. All communications between the parties shall be through counsel or another third party agreed upon in advance in writing. The Applicant’s communications with counsel and any third party agreed upon for communication purposes shall be subject to the following terms and conditions: 
  2. His comments shall be strictly limited to issues pertaining to the child; 
  3. His messages shall be brief, informative, and courteous; and 
  4. Without limiting the generality of subparagraphs (a) and (b), he shall refrain absolutely from making derogatory comments about counsel, any agreed upon third party or the Respondent, and shall refrain from setting out personal opinions regarding their character. 
  5. In the event that the Applicant breaches the terms set out in paragraph 8, the Respondent may apply for an order for costs in connection with each breach pursuant to Rule 1(8)(a) of the Family Law Rules. 

Within a few hours of Justice Chappel’s endorsement, the Applicant had sent an email that breached the terms of the order. By the time the motion was brought, the Applicant’s father had delivered twenty-five emails and text messages to the Respondent that directly violated the order. The court recognized the recurring theme of harassment and intimidation. The court held that the emails and text messages of D.C.A were in breach of paragraph 8 of the prior order in two respects: 

  1. Communicating with A.E.C. when he was directed to contact only experienced lawyer; and 
  2. Delivering communications that were derogatory, offensive, and threatening. 

What did the Court decide? 

Based on the circumstances and the Applicant’s conduct, the court felt it was necessary to impose a cost award to get the father’s attention. The Applicant’s father did not acknowledge his communications were improper, nor did he apologize or undertake to communicate in a respectful manner in the future. Costs were awarded in the fixed amount of $5,000.00 pursuant to Rule 1(8) of the Family Law Rules, and costs were awarded for the motion in the fixed amount of $500.00.  

Please see the link below to read more about the case.

 

2022 ONSC 1002 (CanLII) | D.C.A. v. A.E.C. | CanLII