An Ontario court recently reviewed a motion by a husband who had requested the return of his passport and other travel documents after he had spent 90 days in jail for failure to pay child support arrears. Upon release, the husband continued to argue that he had limited assets and could not pay the full arrears (and security) owing, while the wife claimed that the husband had significant assets, in the tens of millions, in Egypt.
Order to Pay Child Support
The former couple had three children together. The husband is a naturalized Canadian citizen. He works in Saudi Arabia and earns a substantial income.
Following the couple’s separation, thehusband had been ordered to pay:
- Child support in the amount of $4,158 per month based on an imputed annual income of $250,000;
- Phones for all children; tuition, book, and college expenses for the two older children;
- Costs of prescription drugs for the children;
- Car insurance for the family vehicle;
- Mortgage and home insurance on the matrimonial home; and
- Life insurance for both himself and the wife.
Husband Arrested for Failure to Pay Support
The husband chose to disregard this order, and the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) obtained an arrest warrant. The husband was arrested on July 7, 2018.
When this matter came before the motion judge on July 12, 2018, the husband owed more than $21,000 in unpaid support. The FRO sought payment of this amount as well as security between $250,000 and $500,000.
On July 13, 2018, the husband’s lawyer deposited the husband’s Canadian passport, Saudi Arabian ID card, and Egyptian national ID with the court.
In mid-August 2018, the husband brought a motion to obtain several forms of relief, including his release from jail, the immediate return of his passport, and a variance of the support order. The husband claimed he was unable to comply with the security term requested by the FRO.
Dispute Over Husband’s Net Worth
The wife disputed the husband’s alleged inability to pay, claiming (with the husband disputing) that he owns properties in Egypt worth in excess of $17 million, and that his net worth exceeds $28 million.
The husband filed several affidavits (assisted by two of the three children, all of whom live with the wife), claiming, among other things, that:
- The parties had separated in 2008 after which the husband continued to support the wife and children;
- The only home the husband owned in Egypt was a $70,000 apartment- he had also put down a $20,000 deposit on another apartment which was still under construction;
- The husband had bought a house for the parties’ 8-year old son in 2008, at the time worth $110,000 (now worth about $220,000);
- Other properties were gifted to the children and were in their names;
- The purchase of seventeen other properties in Egypt was “in limbo” due to a legal dispute with the Egyptian government.
Wife Claims Children Being “Manipulated” by Husband
The wife claimed (and the children denied) that they were being “manipulated” by their father because they were financially dependent on him.
The motion judge concluded that there was merit to the wife’s claim, noting that the information for many of the statements in the supporting affidavits could only have come from the husband and that it was “patently clear” that the children knew very little about their father’s net worth. Alternatively, the motion judge believed that the children were complicit in the husband’s attempt to mislead the court.
Inconsistencies in the Husband’s Financial Records
The motion judge also noted several inconsistencies in the husband’s financial records. For instance, in a 2014 mortgage application, the husband had indicated that he owned at least seven properties valued at more than $17.5 million. However, in a 2018 financial statement, the husband disclosed only four properties: two condos valued at $10,000 each and two pieces of unvalued farmland.
The Motion Judge’s Conclusions
The motion judge dismissed the husband’s motion, noting:
I don’t believe the husband. His evidence is riddled with inconsistencies. Either he misrepresented to the lending institution his financial circumstances in 2014 or he has repeatedly lied to this court about his net worth. The evidence is also clear that the husband has purchased, and probably owns, properties in Egypt some of which he has “gifted” to his children, one of whom (as already noted) was eight years old in 2008 and all of whom were living, and continue to live, with their mother in Canada pursuing their studies.
There is no credible explanation from the husband how in 2014 his net worth was $17,600,000 (at least) and two years later less than $200,000.
The motion judge concluded:
The sole object of the husband’s motion is, in my view, the return of his passport and other travel documents after which I have no doubt that he will leave this jurisdiction never to return. The wife’s support and equalization rights would be irreparably prejudiced in that event. The husband is over five months in arrears of his support payments and, according to the wife, he has not been compliant with paragraph 5 of the support Order of with respect to payment of various housing and related expenses for the wife and children.
Family law issues, including issues of spousal support, child support, division of property, and equalization, can be thorny and emotional and can significantly add to the stress of the breakdown of a marriage. Consulting an experienced, compassionate family lawyer early in the process can significantly ease the process. As the oldest independent law firm in Waterloo Region, and one of the oldest in the province, Duncan, Linton LLP has been providing clear, effective and strategic legal advice to clients for over a century. Call us at (519) 886-3340 or contact us online for a consultation.