Actions and Consequences in Family Court

Legally disentangling a family is an inherently emotional process. Tempers flare, tears flow, and we do things we ordinarily would not do. But actions have consequences and, in family litigation, sometimes we have to atone for those actions in front of a judge.

Husband learned this lesson the hard way in the recent Supreme Court of BC decision, H.S. v. R.S., 2015 BCSC 1856. As a Canadian citizen, Husband sponsored his Pakistani Wife’s application for Canadian citizenship. Wife became pregnant. Their relationship soured and they separated. Husband immediately –i.e. the same day as separation – withdrew sponsorship of his pregnant Wife.

Wife faced a deportation order. She challenged it, arguing that her life was in danger in Pakistan. Husband argued there was no danger. Immigration officials agreed with Husband and upheld the deportation order.

Wife applied to family court seeking a variety of relief, including custody of the 13 month old child and a relocation order permitting her to take the child to Pakistan. The orders were granted.

The lesson here is that actions have consequences. In retrospect, Husband probably regrets withdrawing sponsorship of Wife on the same day as separation. Often, especially in family litigation, it is wise to take a deep breath and very carefully consider the pros and cons of a course of action. Had Husband done that and decided not to withdraw his sponsorship, perhaps the child would remain in Canada.

Jeffrey L. Hartman 

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