6. Get legal advice about court rules
Whether you are representing yourself or have a lawyer, it is important to know your rights and get legal advice about how the courts can protect you.
- Your ex-partner might bring unnecessary motions just to harass you and force you to come back to court. Once he has done this more than a couple of times, you can ask the judge to make an order that he pay your costs every time he brings an unnecessary motion or that he not be permitted to bring any more motions without prior approval from the court:
- The Courts of Justice Act, section 140, allows judges to make an order prohibiting a party from bringing further court proceedings without specific permission from the court if he has been identified as a “vexatious litigant.”
- Even when you have an interim order in place, your ex-partner may continue with his bullying tactics by manipulating the order. For example, if you have an interim custody and access order, he might skip access without notice to you, arrive early or late to pick up the kids, return them early or late or “forget” to bring their clothes, schoolwork or toys back with them:
- The best way to deal with this kind of bullying is to follow the interim order closely yourself and then document in detail every time he does not follow it. Limit communication to what is absolutely essential and follow any communication terms set out in the interim order.
- Ensure that orders for disclosure contain specific “due dates.”
- The Rules of Civil Procedure has two sections dealing with troublesome parties. Rule 60.11 permits a judge to make a contempt order against a party who defies court procedures or orders.
- You and your ex-partner are likely to bring motions from time to time during your case. A motion is the court process that lets you get an interim (temporary) order while you wait for your case to move ahead. Your ex-partner can use this process to try to harass and intimidate you. If you can anticipate what your ex-partner might do, you can raise your concerns in your court documents and ask the judge to make an order to address them: Rule 57 allows a judge to order a bully to pay all the costs of the other person if he brings harassing matters in front of the court.