Spending days ringside to other people’s parents bickering and arguing and general dysfunction takes a soul strong of stomach and long on patience, which is why only a hardy few to be a family court judge. But it doesn’t mean they’re not funny. Either that, or one Canadian justice found an unusual way to vent. Sick of the shenanigans of a couple from, ironically, the honeymoon capital of Niagara, he ruled that the wife should have full custody of their 13-year-old daughter but that the father should only pay $1 (and that’s a Canadian dollar) a month in child support. But it was the way he ruled that has everyone talking.
Ontario Superior Court Judge Joseph Quinn’s 31-page December decision—which made the local papers and is still doing the rounds of legal circles on the internet—is filled with the kind of black humor and derision one would imagine is usually kept for close be-robed colleagues only. He chided the couple for “marinating in a mutual hatred so intense as to surely amount to a personality disorder,” and said the chances of amicable resolution were “laughable.” The wife had poisoned their daughter “irreparably” against the father who, the judge admitted, had “a near-empty parenting tool box.” (More on TIME.com: 5 New Reasons to Get or Stay Married This Year)
Quinn mocked the couple’s habit of sending abusive, vulgarity-laced texts to each other and their inability to be civil at their children’s sporting events. On one occasion apparently, Catherine, the wife, had tried to run Larry over with her car — “always a telltale sign that a husband and wife are drifting apart,” the judge noted.
Catherine’s relatives, several of whom are Hell’s Angels, made death threats against her ex , which the judge mentioned, adding that “on Oct. 18, 2007, a nautical theme was added. According to Larry, ‘Catherine’s sister-in-law yelled out her window that I was going to be floating in the canal dead.’ ” That Catherine told her children they’d go to jail if they even called their dad did not help matters.
Larry, meanwhile, was given to flipping the bird every time he drove past his ex-wife’s house, leading the justice to observe that “a finger is worth a thousand words and therefore, is particularly useful should one have a vocabulary of less than a thousand words.” (More on TIME.com: Why Married Men Are Less Antisocial)
Quinn knew his tone was harsh but defended it saying since the parties were “immune to reason” he had used ridicule as a last resort. Is there a standup circuit for the legal set?
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