What Is Ontario Works?
Ontario works is essentially welfare in Ontario. Sometimes they get involved with spousal and child support cases. They also help people afford the basics, like housing, clothes, and eating food. Ontario Works also makes sure that people in Ontario have access to health benefits if they cannot afford it.
A single person on welfare in Ontario get’s around $650/month to assist them in meeting their minimum needs. A single person with a child get’s around $1500/month. For two children it’s around $1800/month. We have heard that people have children to get more welfare money from the government. A single person on disability get’s around $1100/month from Ontario Works.
They also help people find jobs by doing the following:
- Writing resumes
- Tips on how to interview
- Specific job training
- Finishing high school
- Improving language skills
Where they normally get involved in family law and divorce cases are when they aid someone who lost their home or left an abusive relationship. If someone feels that they and/or their child are in danger, they might reach out to Ontario Works for help.
If they is making demands of you and you would like to speak to a family lawyer, call us toll free at 1-844-466-6529
If you have the family responsibility office contacting you, please review this page instead: Family Responsibility Office
Learn more about family law on our YouTube channel.
Family law can be stressful. Dealing with government and non-profit organizations (like Ontario Works) that are helping your spouse are even more stressful. You may not be sure if you want to hire a lawyer full time to assist you with your case. It is best to at least reach out and book a one-hour meeting with a family lawyer. You can also book a 15-minute free consultation with a senior manager on the phone.
Having a lawyer represent you can help you sleep better at night.
Since Ontario Works normally get’s involved in situations where there is domestic violence, we thought we would write more about the high cost of domestic violence.
The high cost of domestic violence and divorce
When an ex-husband with a history of abuse argued his former wife was acting in bad faith, an Ontario family law judge was unconvinced. That cost him not only custody of their child, but significant legal expenses and a mehr.
“Anna” petitioned the court for divorce, custody, access, child support, spousal support and payment of a mehr. Her ex, “Fadi”, told the court her injuries were self-inflicted. He said she had attempted to deny him access to their daughter. The court found otherwise.
Beatings, isolation were extreme
During the year the couple lived together, the tiny Anna, who weighed 100 lbs., suffered a broken jaw, “cauliflower” ear caused by beatings, an iron-shaped burn mark and numerous scratches, burns and scars. Anna said she had been isolated from her family and friends.
She testified during a criminal trial that her husband, mother-in-law and brother-in-law caused the injuries. Fadi countered that she had psychiatric illnesses, inflicted her own injuries and had a history of harming herself. He said she did not want to see her family or friends because they were interfering in her life. The trial ended in a stay of proceedings, halting it, although the trial could be continued later.
No evidence wife had psychiatric illness
The divorce proceedings were more successful. An Ontario Superior Court of Justice family court judge was sympathetic to Anna. She ruled Anna had suffered greatly from the alleged abuse and that Fadi had tried to reduce the time she spent with their child to sabotage their relationship. She noted Fadi had threatened to go back to court if Anna’s “psychiatric illnesses” returned and ask that her access to their daughter be supervised.
The judge found no evidence of any illness. Citing Fadi’s “poor choices”, she granted custody of the couple’s four-year-old to Anna. She and the child moved to the U.S., while Fadi was given supervised access two to three hours a month. The judge also directed Fadi to pay Anna a promised mehr of $25,000 USD. A mehr is a mandatory payment in cash or possessions paid upon marriage that becomes the wife’s legal property. Fadi received no spousal support from Anna and because of the abuse, was given a restraining order.
Bad faith affects legal costs
Anna’s legal counsel asked the court for just over $468,000 in fees and costs. Because of the extreme abuse and isolation she suffered, Anna’s lawyer argued she should receive the full amount from Fadi, who they said acted in bad faith. Ontario Family Law Rule 24(8) allows for full recovery of legal costs if a party shows bad faith.
Her lawyers asked the judge to consider Fadi’s comments about Anna being unstable, along with what her lawyer called his obvious lies about the domestic violence. Her lawyer also asked to have the Ontario Family Responsibility Office (FRO) enforce any court-ordered costs. Section 1(1)(g) of the Family Responsibility and Support Arrears Enforcement Act allows the FRO to collect legal fees or other expenses arising for support or maintenance.
Anna felt there was a risk Fadi would declare bankruptcy to avoid paying costs. Having the costs declared part of the support payments would mean they could not be discharged by a bankruptcy [see the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, section 178(1)] . Although Fadi could lose his driver’s licence and passport if the FRO was involved, that would be a consequence of his own actions, her lawyer argued.
What the case law said
Reviewing previous court decisions (case law), the ONSC judge referred to a similar case, S v S, (2007) CarswellOnt 3485 (SCJ), where costs were considered support and enforced by the FRO. In that 2007 ONSC decision, a mother recovered over $320,000 for legal fees after her husband alienated the couple’s children, “both through and with” them, causing emotional distress and harming her and their children.
As the judge ruled:
“…behaviour must be shown to be carried out with intent to inflict financial or emotional harm on the other party or other persons affected by the behaviour, to conceal information relevant to the issues or to deceive the other part or the court.” (S S at para 17).
A simple, misguided mistake or bad judgment are not sufficient to be bad faith. But acting unreasonably, such as refusing to disclose financial information, drawing out a case to cause financial hardship or withholding support payments for no reason, can raise the court’s ire.
In the husband’s defence
Fadi argued he had not acted in bad faith. He pointed out he had lost custody of their daughter and owed over $230,000 to his family and criminal law lawyers. He had credit card and line of credit debts and earned minimum wage at a fast food restaurant, while Anna was a physician. With the Crown appealing the stay of proceedings in the domestic violence case, he could expect his legal costs to continue to climb.
Overall, he estimated his debts at $900,000, including loss of his job, savings and his family’s home and life savings. He needed his driver’s licence to find work and that and his passport to travel to the U.S. to visit their daughter.
He suggested Anna was the one who acted badly during the family law trial. She had tried to prevent him from seeing their child and delayed arranging supervised visits, he said. Having FRO enforce support could cost him the ability to find work and that could make him homeless.
What the court decided
Ultimately, the court found the domestic violence and abuse Anna suffered, along with the fact she was mostly successful during the trial, made it unreasonable to expect her to pay all of her own legal fees. Ontario Family Law Rule 24(1) assumes successful parties will be awarded costs.
Since the couple had no property to share and neither one showed evidence of offers to settle out of court, the judge found for Anna. With no evidence she acted in bad faith, the judge relied on the finding in S v S on “intent” to inflict financial or emotional harm or deceive.
Husband’s testimony was not credible
The violence was also an issue. Given that Fadi, his mother and brother were charged by police, and that a psychiatrist found no evidence of psychiatric illness by Anna, the judge discounted what Fadi had said. While she acknowledged Fadi’s financial problems, she found the former husband’s testimony was not credible. That caused the court case to carry on longer than expected, accounting for Anna’s high legal bills. Although Anna earned more than Fadi, she had only begun to make a good income after they separated.
In the final analysis, the court ruled Anna should receive $300,000 of her $468,000 in legal costs. Fadi was ordered to pay $275,000 without delay and $25,000 to be enforced by the FRO. That would allow Fadi to keep his driver’s licence and passport so he could visit his daughter. It was a costly decision for Fadi. And for Anna.
If your ex-partner is abusing you or you feel your legal costs are getting out of control, call us for advice. If you need help dealing with Ontario Works, ClearWay Law’s lawyers are available 844-466-6529 or by email to info (at) clearwaylaw.com.