Who Pays The Bill?

In my opinion and personal experience with divorce, parenting coordinators (“PC”) are a welcome addition to the current legislative Family Law Regime in British Columbia.

Couples are often not on amiable terms in the situations leading up to divorce. Discussions on holidays, parenting time and expenses often end in “phone-slamming.” The inevitable next step is fighting and arguing, which children unfortunately witness. An expensive consult with a lawyer sometimes follows.

What if an agreed to or court appointed decision maker could help these parents resolve these issues in a more informal manner? I believe it would spare a lot of time, expense, and heartache.

The role of a PC is simple: to assist the parties in resolving decision-making conflicts. If the parties cannot agree, the PC is empowered to make a binding decision on the issue; presumably in the best interests of the children.

The question inevitably follows: who is going to pay the bill?

Because PCs are new in British Columbia, case-law is sparse on the issue. Should the wealthier parent pay the bill? What if one party refuses to enter a parenting agreement unless the other party pays? Despite this natural initial gap in guidance, the courts so-far have been clear that the parties are to share the cost of the PC equally.

In the recent case of P.(C.) v. C.(B.), the Court held that “equal contribution, as opposed to proportionate contribution, will encourage each party to use these methods fairly and in a focused manner;” even where the gap in income between the husband and wife was not minor.

The Court, in my humble opinion, justifiably believes that the parties will adhere to this mechanism more seriously if they each have to pony up; if they each have a dog in the fight. If the parents take this process seriously, they will likely be more willing to compromise lest they be over-ruled expeditiously by a PC. This, I hope, will save time, judicial resources, money and above all, will allow children to avoid witnessing their parents’ callousness and spite.

To determine if a parenting coordinator is right in your circumstance, do not hesitate to contact our Family Law Group.

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