When representing parties in issues relating to child support, spousal support and Division of assets, parties are required to exchange to each other full and financial disclosure. Failure to do so in a timely manner causes unnecessary delay and cost in resolving the issues.
Rule 13 of the Family Law Rules covers the process of financial disclosure in family law proceedings. The rule generally describes the forms to be used for particular issues and the level of disclosure needed.
When I am representing clients with issues involving division of assets, the clients are expected to complete the applicable form, namely, Form 13.1 (Financial Statement – Property and Support Claims). If the matter at hand is only support then the form to be completed is Form 13 (Support Claims).
With respect to Form 13.1, clients are also expected to provide me with documents to prove the numbers mentioned in the financial statement in the following order:
1. 3 current consecutive pay stubs or income statement.
2. Notice of Assessment for the last 3 years
3. Income Tax Return for the last 3 years
4. Backup documents proving your assets for 3 dates, if applicable, the date of marriage, the date of separation (aka valuation date) and the current date such as investment statements, deeds for real estate, pension statements, bank statements, insurance policies, appraisals of property, and valuations as to the value of business. There are many other documents which can be provided, these are simply examples to help you appreciate and understand what is required of you.
5. Backup documents proving your debts for 3 dates if applicable, the date of marriage, the date of separation (aka valuation date) and the current date such as mortgage statements, credit card statements and car loan and mortgage loan applications
Once I obtain the requisite information from my client, then I proceed to prepare other additional financial documents, namely Net Family Property Statement to determine equalization payment and Certificate of Financial Disclosure confirming the financial disclosure back up documents disclosed.
The process of financial disclosure can be time consuming and expensive. Typically, the process takes parties, who are motivated, at least a month to gather the relevant financial information and complete the financial statement. You can work towards saving your legal costs with respect to this aspect of my representation by being organized such that you provide me with complete disclosure in one package for my initial review.
It should be noted that if you are in the court process a judge may order costs against you if you fail to provide full and frank disclosure in a timely manner.
Jane Mukongolo is a Divorce/Family Lawyer practising law in Toronto. She can be reached at email@example.com