Navigating Family Law Litigation with Dire Financial Issues During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Ontario provincial government recently released an updated list of essential workplaces that can remain physically open during the pandemic. These restrictions are put in place to minimize contact between people and reduce the spread of COVID-19. It is evident that businesses that require foot traffic, such as retail stores, restaurants, and personal care services, would take the greatest financial hit as a result of the pandemic.

Parties involved in family law litigation can bring an urgent motion that involves “dire issues regarding the parties’ financial circumstances”. This might sound like a worthy endeavour for individuals whose income and/or cash flow has been disrupted or even abruptly stopped due to COVID-19, particularly if their businesses were forced to temporarily close.

In Theis v. Theis, Justice Madsen clarified what evidence would be needed for parties to show that they are now in a dire financial situation to bring an urgent motion for financial relief. In this case, the Applicant’s mother was an esthetician whose business had not been able to operate since late March. Despite her now non-existent income, she had to continue to pay for rent and utilities, as well as expenses for herself and the children. She brought an urgent motion seeking the release of a portion of her share of the proceeds of the sale of the matrimonial home, which was being held in an interest-bearing trust account. It should be noted that the Applicant’s mother did not file her financial statement at this time.

Justice Madsen ruled that there is no evidence before the court to indicate that the Applicant’s mother is in a dire financial situation. The decision specified the types of evidence needed for the court to assess a party’s circumstances in urgent motions, such as the party’s income before COVID-19, current total income from all sources, personal and business expenses, the extent of the party’s generally available resources, and results of any application for provincial and/or federal relief funds.

This case signifies that litigants will be required to put forth comprehensive evidence when claiming that the coronavirus pandemic has left a devastating impact on their finances.

This blog post is not intended to be legal advice and was written for general education purposes. Consult with a legal professional in determining what evidence is needed to bring or respond to an urgent motion.

The above information is NOT legal advice of any kind, and you should be sure to speak to a qualified family law litigation lawyer about litigation and financial issues. For more information, on how to find justice during a pandemic, call us at 905-273-4588 or email us at to book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our experienced family law lawyers at Kain & Ball Family Law.

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