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Vancouver Masters Interim Appeal Family Lawyers routinely appear in Chambers across BC to argue interim spousal and child support disputes, child parenting time cases and personal and property restraining orders. Tal Wolf is one of our highly regarded senior downtown Vancouver associates. In today’s blog,  Tal discusses what happens if a spouse disagrees with a decision made by a Family Law Master in BC Supreme Court.

Vancouver Masters Interim Appeal Family Lawyers – 1-877-602-9900

“Masters”  decide all kinds of important interim family law issues in BC Supreme court. Vancouver Masters Interim Appeal Family Lawyers explain that Masters are authorized to issue binding orders on matters as broad as interim child or spousal support, custody and parenting time arrangements pending trial, and temporary restraining orders that can seriously impede your access to family assets, or regulate the way you are allowed to communicate with your spouse. Often, the only Court decisions ever made in your case will come from a BC Supreme Court Master because most cases tend to settle before a regular judge trial occurs. 

How Do Appeals From A Master Work?

What happens if you don’t like the Masters decision?  Technically, our BC Supreme Court Family Rules procedures are available to have the matter appealed to a BC Supreme Court judge but in most cases only if you can show that the Master was “clearly wrong”! Appealing an order is very different from changing an order. You appeal an order (to a higher court) when you think the judge has made a mistake about the facts or the law.

If you choose to appeal the decision of a master, you must file Family Form F98 within 14 days after the order or decision was made. For more information on how our top rated* BC family law appeal lawyers can help you read this.

Vancouver Master’s Interim Appeal Family Lawyers note that just this past week in Abid v. Kahn, 2018 BCSC 1292, the parenting arrangements for the children had been the subject of a number of court orders.

  1. There was acrimony between the parties, and Master’s orders issued. 
  2. Both parties applied to change the interim consent parenting order. They disagreed about which of their respective proposed changes were in the children’s best interests.
  3. The mother sought to change the days on which the respondent exercised parenting time but no increase in the amount of parenting time;
  4. The father sought both a change to the days on which he had parenting time and an increase in the number of days. 
  5. Both parents also sought interim sole parental responsibility for all matters relating to the treatment and assistance for their son’s ASD, including the ability to dismiss or hire the individual or agency involved in the treatment or care program, and to manage the government funding available for the treatment program.
  6. Finally, the father sought sole parental responsibility with respect to the choice of their son’s preschool or kindergarten.

Vancouver Masters Interim Appeal Family Lawyers

Madame Justice MacNaughton disagreed that the Master’s decision should be disturbed:

29      The father attempted to cast the orders in this case as vital to a final issue by arguing that the mother’s alleged failure to ensure that their son was receiving treatment for his ASD while in her care was vital to his development. There was a significant factual dispute about that issue. While I accept that the son’s treatment is an important issue to the parties, the master’s order did not impact that issue in a vital way. Rather, the master concluded that because of the dispute about the appropriateness of the son’s treatment provider, one parent should have sole decision-making authority about it and he preferred the mother over the father on an interim basis. The master’s order did not create a new status quo; in fact, he carefully avoided doing so.

30      The master’s orders provided for an interim parenting arrangement which did not change the nature of the children’s relationship with either parent. The parenting orders did not exclude the father from the children’s lives. Under the master’s order, the father received the same parenting time that he agreed to at the JCC. He was still a joint custodian and joint guardian, and entitled to the rights and subject to the obligations which flowed from that status.

31      In fact, if the master had granted the father’s application, the status quo established under the consent order at the JCC would have changed significantly, with the father replacing the mother as the primary care parent.

32      Although the father did not specifically argue that the master’s order was clearly wrong, had I considered this application based on that standard of review, I would have upheld the master’s order.

33      He considered the evidence before him, applied the correct legal and analytical framework, and exercised his discretion cautiously in not altering the status quo.

34      At para. 15 of his reasons, the master set out that he was mandated to consider only the best interests of the children based on the enumerated factors in s. 37(2) of the Family Law Act, S.B.C. 2011, c. 25.

37      With respect to his decision to allocate the parenting responsibilities for the son’s ASD treatment to the mother, the master expressed his concern about the parties’ inability to agree on what was in their son’s best interests. He said:

[29] Issues relating to the treatment and assistance to be provided to [the son] for his ASD must be dealt with in a timely manner. It is apparent that the parties cannot reach a consensus on what would be in the best interests of [the son] in that regard. Under s. 45(1)(a) of the FLA the court can allocate parental responsibilities. The only option available to the court . . . is to allocate parental responsibilities for these issues to one of the parents.

[30] . . . The [mother] has been the primary caregiver for [the son] She has had the majority of parenting time with [him] since the date of separation. She is a registered nurse. Although it is by no means ideal to allocate these parental responsibilities to one parent, in the circumstances of this case, she is better suited than the [father] to deal with these issues.

38      Faced with the dispute between the parties, and exercising his judgment and discretion, the master chose the parent he concluded was best suited. While the father disagrees with the decision, it was not clearly wrong.

And so, the appeal of the Master’s Order was dismissed. 

Call Our Vancouver Masters Interim Appeal Family Lawyers Today

Masters authority must be taken seriously, which is why you should never go it alone.  Contact the British Columbia Family Lawyers at MacLean Family Law to help you obtain (or fight against) temporary pre-trial orders necessary to preserve the peace or level the playing field while you and your spouse come to grips with the high emotions of separation, and make your way towards a fair and just settlement of your family issues.

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