In a lengthy decision issued in June, provincial court judge Bryce Dyer signed off from further involvement with a B.C. couple locked in a long, bitter divorce battle. The case illustrates the difficulties of high-conflict cases where parents refuse to compromise and kids are caught in the middle.
A Turbulent History Of Conflict
The story began in 2013 when Judge Dyer awarded mother Z.S.R the bulk of custody for 15-month-old daughter, A. Over the last three years, the parties continued to bring their many and varied disputes before him. Finally, when father R.S. applied for increased parenting time, the parties appeared before the wearied judge for the last time.
Before bowing out of the case, Judge Dyer deliberated over each party’s minute detail of accounts. R.S. contended that Z.S.R was continuing to use breastfeeding to limit his access to A. , now nearly four years old. Z.S.R. argued over R.S.’s consistent failure to regulate naps, T.V. viewing and Facetime calls with Z.S.R. while A. was in his custody. Both demonstrated the other’s severe communication defects and divorce antics, including Z.S.R.’s routinely diverting her ex’s emails to the junk folder, and R.S.’s habit of filming her to collect proof of her untruthfulness.
“Practise…Compromising Skills” Before Litigating Again
In his judgment, Judge Dyer increased R.S.’s custody. However, he refused to delineate particulars regarding the division of holiday visits and the selection of a school, stating that it is “not in A.’s best interests to have a further round or rounds of contested family litigation over where she will go to preschool, church, or elementary school.”
The judge further explained that "litigation process is not to be used by one to either bully or seek control over the other". Ordering a" minimum two years' peace” during which the parents are to “practise their compromising skills", he directed them to seek other conflict resolution methods such as counseling or parenting coordination.
Should the parties ever return to the courtroom, Judge Dyer directed that he would “not in future hear matters pertaining to these parties”, but that they were to “face a new face a new judge who knows nothing about them.”
The lawyers at Peterson Stark Scott are skilled, both in assisting high-conflict couples navigate their issues and to utilize parenting coordination and other alternative dispute resolution methods.