High conflict divorce proceedings can sometimes lead people to act in ways they may not have otherwise, engaging in tactics designed to hurt or inconvenience their former spouse and/or co-parent. This behaviour can have serious repercussions, not only on decisions with respect to family law matters but in other areas of one’s life as well. Recently, ongoing proceedings between a man, an officer with Calgary Police Services, and his former wife, have been making headlines because some of the husband’s actions have resulted in him facing disciplinary proceedings at work, as well as criminal charges for perjury.
The parents had an arrangement for the mother to drop the child off at the father’s home in February 2019, as part of their shared parenting arrangements. The mother arrived as scheduled, however, the pair became involved in a dispute over their daughter’s necklace. The argument grew heated, and the mother left with their child, saying she wasn’t comfortable leaving her with her father given the argument. At the time, the mother had also brought documents to serve to her former husband and left them on his porch. The husband contacted the police due to the argument, and when the OPP officers arrived, they saw the court paperwork on the porch. They attempted to give the man the documents, who initially refused them saying his former wife wasn’t permitted to serve him with court documents.
The officer then handed the documents to the man, saying that he (the officer) was permitted to serve him with documents. The exchange was captured in an audio recording by the OPP officers. The documents required both the husband and wife to attend court on May 8th of that year for a hearing.
The man failed to show up to court for the hearing and, as a result, the court awarded costs to the wife, in the amount of $500.00. The man later swore two affidavits claiming he had never received the documents. His actions ultimately resulted in three criminal charges of lying under oath during his divorce proceedings.
The Crown had argued that the man had intentionally lied in his affidavits with respect to being served the court documents in early 2019. Despite the conversation about the documents with the OPP officers at the time, the man said he had been under the belief the officers had left his home with the documents in their possession. his lawyer said he made an honest mistake and hadn’t intended to mislead the court intentionally. The trial with a finding of not guilty, with the court saying that “[p]eople engaged in protracted, acrimonious disputes can become obsessed with the situation and act irrational and that’s what happened here”.
Despite the favourable conclusion of the criminal trial, the man is also facing disciplinary action at work, where the false affidavits, as well as other behaviours, have resulted in his being suspended without pay since December of 2020.
Before their marriage, the wife had been involved in an affair with a married man. She became pregnant as a result of that relationship and gave birth to a child. The father of that child made a private arrangement to pay her monthly child support in the amount of $2,400, without his wife’s knowledge. The father’s spouse remained unaware of the affair, the child, and the financial arrangements.
In October of 2019, the man in the present case used his position as a police officer to conduct searches on the father of his former wife’s first child and that man’s wife using police databases. He obtained information about their vehicles and then located the wife while she was in her car, and told her about everything. Her husband then reported these actions to Calgary Police Services, which undertook an investigation into his actions. At the time, the man said he had conducted the searches as part of a car theft ring he had been looking into.
However, following a hearing into his actions, the decision concluded that the man had “[viewed] it as a means to create some form of leverage or inflict some form of harm or consequence to [his ex-wife]”. The panel overseeing the hearing found him to be an unreliable witness, given that he had provided investigating officers with “false or fabricated details”.
Ultimately, the hearing resulted in a finding of guilty for five counts of professional misconduct under Alberta’s Police Act. The man remains suspended without pay.
Taking retaliatory action against a former spouse as part of a high-conflict divorce or family proceeding is never advisable. These tactics can ultimately have a negative impact on the perpetrator with respect to their family law rights, and as the case above demonstrates, their job or even their freedom. When there are children involved, this type of behaviour can also cause lasting emotional damage for everyone involved.
At Mincher Koeman, our lawyers understand the emotional and financial stress that high-conflict family law matters, including those related to divorce, parenting and support, can bring. Our team is dedicated to helping you move forward through your family law issues, taking the time to listen to your unique circumstances, understanding your goals, and working towards a favourable result. We can be reached by telephone at 403-910-3000 or online. Please contact us today to book your initial appointment.
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