Financial Disclosures in Family Law Proceedings

Rule 13 of the Family Law Rules (the “Rules”) contains numerous provisions designed to ensure that parties to a Family Law proceeding provide comprehensive disclosure early in a proceeding and update it regularly. The key reason for this rule is to promote the primary objective in every Family Law proceeding, which is to enable the court to deal with cases “justly”. In order for a case to be dealt with justly, prompt and accurate financial disclosure is absolutely essential if parties are to achieve fair, cost-effective and lasting results in family law proceedings. Improperly completing the Financial Statement or failing to provide necessary and relevant disclosure will only serve to add significant cost and delay to Family Law matters.

To ensure that these objectives are met, the Rules (in most circumstances) prohibit the court clerk from accepting a party’s Financial Statement for filing into the court’s record unless proof of the party’s current income and Notices of Assessment or the three previous years are required to be attached. The court will also not accept a party’s Application, Answer, Reply, Notice of Motion, or Affidavit in response for filing if the Rules require that the document be filed with a Financial Statement and no Financial Statement is provided.

Because of the importance of disclosure in family law proceedings, ensure that you have open and honest discussions with your lawyer regarding all of your assets and liabilities, both at the time of marriage, at the date of separation and on an ongoing basis. There are some items that may be excluded from an equalization calculation (if you are married spouses), which is a fancy name for the division of assets upon marriage breakdown. However, only a Family Law lawyer will be properly able to advise you with respect to what assets are legitimate exclusions and which are not. It is also important to keep in mind that it is not enough to simply state that an asset existed on the date of marriage (or any other date). Opposing counsel will require back-up documentation confirming same. In some cases, this can be problematic because most banks will not keep copies of their records for more than seven (7) years, meaning that if you do not have the statements yourself, you may be out of luck.