Verch v. Verch – Court Orders are not Recommendations; Remedy for Non-Payment
This case is an example of what happens when a payor refuses to comply with a court order that involves the payment of money.
What possible remedies are available to the other party, or the court?
The wife and four children of the marriage lived in the matrimonial home. Subject to previous motions, the wife was given exclusive possession over the home. However the husband’s name remained on title as he owned the home prior to the marriage. The husband failed to pay the outstanding property taxes and allowed the home insurance policy to lapse. A motion was then brought ordering the husband to pay the taxes due on the home; however no payment was ever made.
The wife then brought a motion for an Order to transfer the property to her in order to secure the outstanding taxes.
The wife maintained that she would pay the outstanding property taxes; however, because she was not on title she could not obtain the refinancing necessary to make the payments.
The husband claimed that he was no longer able to carry on business and that he did not have the money to pay the outstanding taxes, and as such, may have to let the house be sold for taxes by the municipality.
What steps, if any, should the court take to ensure preservation of the property pending the outcome of the litigation and in satisfaction of the obligation under the prior court Order?
The court rejected the husband’s assertion that he is no longer able to carry on business and therefore does not have the money to pay the property taxes as it was not shown in the evidence provided to the court. Rather Justice Abrams found that the husband chose not to pay the property taxes in contravention of the order and thereby placed the matrimonial home, the party’s most significant asset, in jeopardy.
Along with other bases for making vesting orders, Justice Abrams stated that section 9 of the Family Law Act provides:
- “In an application under section 7, the court may order:
- that, if appropriate to satisfy an obligation imposed by the order,
- property to be transferred to or in trust for or vested in a spouse, whether absolutely, for life or for a term of years”
Further Justice Abrams reasoned that:
[g]iven the [husband’s] previous actions and reasonably anticipated future behaviour, I am persuaded that a Vesting Order is necessary to ensure compliance with that obligation and to ensure that the matrimonial home is protected pending the final outcome of this litigation.
With that, Justice Abrams held that the wife shall be entitled to encumber the matrimonial home with the husband’s consent, to a maximum of $15,000.00, in order to pay the outstanding property taxes and to ensure that the home is properly insured.