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An Ontario court recently had to grapple with a family law dispute in which the wife claimed that her husband had a net worth in excess of $28,000,000, while he claimed to be worth less than $200,000 and therefore unable to pay his support obligations.

The Facts

The parties had separated at the beginning of 2008. They had three children together.

The husband was born in Egypt and is a naturalized Canadian citizen. He works in Saudi Arabia and earns a substantial income.  Apart from his interest in the parties’ jointly-owned matrimonial home, which had been awarded to the wife, the husband had no assets of any value in Canada. However, the wife claimed, and the husband disputed, that he owned properties in Egypt worth in excess of $17,000,000 CDN and that his net worth exceeded $28,000,000 CDN. The husband has claimed that these properties were owned by the parties’ children or that his purchase of them was “in limbo”.

In this family law dispute between husband and wife, there already existed a lengthy history of court orders. As a result, in this instance, the husband moved for an order varying a previous one to have his Canadian Passport returned to him along with other travel documents issued by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. These documents had been remanded to the court under a previous order.

In the alternative, the father asked for a declaration that he had complied with another order by serving 90 days in jail for non-payment of a support order made in 2018.

His obligation to turn over his travel documents and serve time in prison were the result of several months of non-payment of a support order of over $4,000 per month as well as other expenses. The husband claimed he was unable to pay.

In his affidavit to the court, aided by two of their three children, the father claimed that he had initially supported his wife and children after the separation, but that his wife had become increasingly hostile after she learned he had entered a new marital relationship with a woman in Saudi Arabia. He claimed that the only home he owned in Egypt was worth about $70,000 CDN and that he had otherwise only paid a small deposit on an apartment that was under construction. He stated that all the other properties he had purchased had been bought for his children and gifted to them. The wife claimed that he owned seventeen properties in Egypt, but the husband stated that there had been legal disputes over them and that the “purchase of those lands was in limbo”.

In response, the wife asserted that the children were being “manipulated” by their father because they were financially dependent on him.

The Decision

The court succinctly summarized its reasons by stating:

“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.

There is no credible evidence whatsoever that the husband is unable to post security as ordered.

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.”

As a result, the court dismissed the husband’s motion.

In addition, the court warned the husband about his behaviour in proceeding with the upcoming case conference. The court suggested that the husband should be prepared to explain the “extraordinary inconsistencies” to the conference judge and stated that “[h]is financial statement is woefully inadequate and, in my view, materially misleading.”

Get Advice

Separation and divorce are challenging for everyone involved.  When dealing with custody or access disputes, matters involving spousal and child support, the division of assets, and other family issues, emotions can be your worst enemy. Having an experienced family lawyer on your side can help you stay focused and resolve disputes as quickly and amicably as possible.

At Campbell Bader LLP our family team has collectively spent more than twenty years advising clients about family disputes, including those involving high net worth individuals or complex matters.

We value and incorporate collaborative family law principles into our practice, but we’re smart enough to recognize when that approach won’t work for you and we adapt our strategy accordingly. To learn more about how we can help you, contact us online or at 905-828-2247.