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Capacity to reconcile or divorce

by Rob Levesque

The recent case of Chuvalo v. Chuvalo, 2018 ONSC 311, involved an application by George Chuvalo, the famous Candian boxer, to divorce his wife.  After the proceedings had been commenced, Mr. Chuvalo, who suffers from cognitive impariment, was found to be incapable of instructing his lawyers.  Subsequently, Mr. Chuvalo decided that he wanted to get back together with his wife.  As such, the Court was faced with the question of whether Mr. Chuvalo, having commenced divorce proceedings, was capable of deciding to reconcile.

You might assume that this would be an easy question to answer.  The choice of who you love, and who you would like to spend your life with, is a matter of the heart – not something that you would expect a Court to interfere with.  However, in Mr. Chuvalo’s case, the choice to reconcile would carry with it financial consequences relating to the divorce proceedings that he had commenced before he was found incapable of instructing his lawyers.  While Mr. Chuvalo understood the difference between divorce and reconciliation, and clearly expressed a preference to reconcile,  the Court found that he was not able to appreciate the potential consequences of a reconcilation, and as such, that he was incapable of reconciling.