Judge rules on Kelowna couple who based life decisions on advice from shaman | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Judge rules on Kelowna couple who based life decisions on advice from shaman

January 29, 2020 - 7:00 AM

A Swiss couple who moved to Kelowna on the advice of a West African shaman and bought a $2-million property have had their parenting and financial affairs ironed out by a B.C. Supreme Court judge.

The couple headed to court to settle a long-running battle over child custody and how to divide the family's assets and debts. 

According to B.C. Supreme Court decision, Jan. 22, the father in the case argued the remaining equity in their 5,400 square foot five-bedroom property - which is currently under foreclosure - should go to him has the money to pay for it accumulated largely from financial gifts from his father totalling roughly $2 million. The names in the decision were initialized to protect the identities of the family members.

The father also wanted increased parenting time with his children and accused the mother of blocking telephone calls and visits with his kids. He also accused his former partner as purposely alienating them from him. At one point he went over to the family home and one of his sons gave him the middle finger, another time he visited a note from his son was pinned to the door saying he did not want to see his dad.

While it is not clear how many times the couple has been in court, the decision references several previous court cases and a messy, lengthy battle over custody and finances.

According to the decision, the couple moved to Kelowna from Switzerland over a decade ago on the advice of a West African shaman. The court documents said the couple first went to see a shaman while living in Switzerland and "fell under the influence of the shamans" travelling to Mali to see them. Under the instructions of the shaman, they bought two vehicles while in Africa to give to a local hospital. When a decision was made to emigrate to Canada, they chose Kelowna, over Calgary or Toronto, based on the advice from the shaman.

On arriving in Kelowna the couple bought a strata site and started the construction of their $2-million home. Ignoring certain strata rules the couple added a pool enclosure and chose a paint colour along with other features without the approval of the strata. This led to fines that by 2018 totalled over $66,000.

The couple also opted to send their children to private schools.

"It eventually became apparent that the parties had over-extended themselves financially," Justice Warren Millman said in the decision. "The parties were never able to earn anywhere near enough money to service these debts."

The couple separated several years ago and put the house on the market for $2.6 million, however, the house has still not sold and is currently for sale at $1.6-million.

The couple cannot agree on how much the other person earns. The mother in the case said her former partner's income is between $155,000 and $180,000 a year, while her business as a life coach makes $15,000 after business expenses.

The mother said she spends $1,900 per month on activities and sports for the children and in a counterclaim filed June 2019, seeks spousal support.

"(The mother) professed to be unable to explain her income, where it came from or how it was accounted for," Justice Millman said in the decision.

The mother argued she could not afford to pay an accountant to provide her financial records even though an earlier court order had requested she provide them.

Justice Millman said the mother in the case had purposely deceived the court about her income, saying she did not know what hourly consulting rate she charged.

The lack of her financial insight did not please the judge.

"She testified that she was unable to meet her (financial) obligations... even though she was able to travel on expensive vacations with her mother and the children overseas," Justice Millman said in the decision.

Ultimately he set her income at $37,000 a year and the father's income at $75,000, ordering the father to pay $1,522 per month in child support.

While the father had argued for a 75/25 split in the family home Justice Millaman ruled against this, splitting the property 50/50.

The father had argued for more custody time with his children to improve the relationship.

However, Justice Millman says there was "some objectively reasonable cause" as to why the children do not want to see their father and that trust needs to be regained. He ordered a "gradual restoration" of parenting time, done over the phone for the next six months "at the election of the boys."

The Justice adds that any failure from the mother to comply with her obligations regarding this will result in a financial penalty.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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