Sep 23, 2020

Husband's Deceit Leads to Unequal Division of Property

Singh v. Singh, 2020 BCCA 21 (CanLII)

The parties married in India in 1977 and separated 37 years later. At the time of separation the couple owned property in British Columbia, Arizona, India, and Palm Springs. Mr. Singh’s evidence was marred by untruths, forgery, limited financial disclosure, and conduct during the litigation that prejudiced his wife. Family property valued at approximately $6 million dollars was divided equally between the spouses, subject to a reapportionment to Ms. Singh.

A central issue in the Court of Appeal was the trial judge’s reapportionment of $250,000 in favour of Ms. Singh, arising from her husband’s conduct in petitioning a company he controlled into bankruptcy, in order to avoid a court order requiring the company to pay his wife’s legal fees, and his lack of disclosure regarding assets in India, resulting in a reduction in the value of property available to Ms. Singh.

The appeal panel considered whether the factors identified by the trial judge fell within the parameters of section 95 of the Family Law Act. Relying on Jaszczewska v. Kostanski, 2016 BCCA 286, the court referred to Justice Harris’ remarks:

“ … in enacting s. 95(2)(i) the Legislature recognized that there may be factors other than those listed that could ground significant unfairness. Hence, while the Legislature intended to limit and constrain the exercise of judicial discretion to depart from equal division, it did not provide a closed list of factors and it did not eliminate the discretion.”

The appeal court reviewed section 95(2) (i)which permits a consideration of “any other factor” and upheld the trial judge’s reapportionment.