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Contempt Principles in Family Litigation and Order to Remove Negative Internet Postings



Often times, once a relationship goes downhill, one of the parties may react negatively and post numerous negative postings on the internet that are derogatory in nature. The mother had, in 2018, obtained an order against her ex-spouse to remove alleged remarks that he made against her on the internet. Instead of removing them, he persisted in continuing to post such postings. The derogatory social media posts caused the mother a great deal of stress and embarrassment. The Court in Hoysted v. Abitbol, 2020 ONSC 6799 through Marc Smith J ruled as follows:


[17] The Court is given a broad discretion in imposing a penalty upon the contemnor. When I consider the remedial objective of the law of contempt, I find that an order preventing further disparaging remarks is appropriate. The Mother initially sought out the IP address disclosure to prove that these inappropriate online postings were made by the Father. Despite his denial of any wrongdoing, he has not filed any materials to respond to the Mother’s allegations, he remains in breach of the 2018 Order, and he has not fully participated in the hearings. Preventing any future online derogatory postings is a remedy that will ensure that the Mother and the child are not subjected to any derogatory online postings by the Father.


[28] The Father’s behaviour has been inappropriate throughout these proceedings. He failed to attend on July 20, 2020. At his request, the Court reconvened on July 31, 2020 to hear his submissions. He did not file any materials in response to the Mother’s Motion. During argument, he told the Court that he would be able to comply with the 2018 Order and provide the IP addresses. The Father was given an opportunity to purge, which he chose not to do. He then did not appear for the penalty component of the contempt proceedings.

[29] The Father does not appear to be particularly concerned about complying with a Court Order or attending Court proceedings. The Father’s behaviour needs to be discouraged and sanctioned.

[30] For these reasons and in exercising my discretion, I find that a reasonable and proportionate amount for costs is $5,500.00, all inclusive and an order that the Father shall not denigrate the Mother, make any commentary or post any picture or video about this case, the Mother, or the child.


Why is this case important?: This case is important because here is clear guidance that when a spouse posts documents that are negative or derogatory in nature, this can be addressed by remedy that the Court has offered, in this case, through a combination of fines and a court order. If the party continues disobeying, further sanctions are possible.

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We are happy to assist and guide you through whatever challenges you have in your spousal life. We work all over Ontario, but primarily in three counties: Huron, Bruce, and Grey and span several cities (Southampton, Kincardine, Goderich, Wiarton, Hanover, Dundalk, Walkerton, Meaford, Markdale, Chatsworth), through our two office locations in Port Elgin and in Owen Sound.

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