Payback

If future international pop-sensation Oksana Grigorieva accepted Mad Mel's settlement offer way back in 2010, this article would be alternatively titled - Ransom. Unlike the one-word films, Payback, as it were, is working out better for the former mega-star as it pertains to Family Law. Last year, Mr. Gibson reportedly offered Ms. Grigorieva (the mother of his youngest child, Lucia) a settlement that would have seen her collect $15 million and obtain primary custody of Lucia. Apparently, she was advised by her legal counsel to hold out for more money and try to get Mr. Gibson to agree to a more favorable parenting arrangement.

As it turns out, the advice given was not very sound. Ms. Grigorieva signed a settlement for just $750,000.00 last week. The agreement also stipulates that the parties will have joint custody of Lucia. Ms. Grigorieva has expressed concerns about Mr. Gibson's anger management issues and was concerned for the well-being of the child. She originally stated that she had hoped to minimize Mel's unsupervised contact until the child was over three years of age. Under the executed agreement, no such clause exists and Mel is authorized to have unsupervised access with his daughter immediately.

If these two parties were Canadian, how would the sections of the Family Law Act pertaining to domestic contracts apply to them? Section 54 reads as follows:

Separation Agreements

(a) ownership in or division of property;

(b) support obligations;

(c) the right to direct the education and moral training of their children;

(d) the right to custody of and access to their children; and

(e) any other matter in the settlement of their affairs.

Without knowing the full particulars of the agreement, it is hard to speculate as to which issues referenced in Section 54 were most prominent during negotiations. We can speculate, however, as to how some of the issues were resolved. It would appear that Mel's support obligations have been addressed through one lump-sum payment of $750,000.00. Because Mel will have Lucia reside with him from time-to-time, the contributions he would make during their stays together are factored into the calculation for support. With an agreement like this, it is unlikely that any additional monetary award would be ordered by the court, but what would happen if Mel flipped out and threatened or endangered the health and safety or Lucia or her mother? Is the agreement impenetrable? Section 56 reads as follows:

Provisions that may be set aside or disregarded

Contracts subject to best interests of child

56.(1) In the determination of a matter respecting the education, moral training or custody of or access to a child, the court may disregard any provision of a domestic contract pertaining to the matter where, in the opinion of the court, to do so is in the best interests of the child.

Therefore, if proof surfaced that Mel was abusive towards the child and the court believed it was in the best interests of the child to have a different relationship with her father, with respect to custody and access, then the court could order that the relevant provisions in the agreement be set aside.

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