Financial Disclosure

The Importance of Financial Disclosure in Family Law

The end of most marriages will contemplate not just an emotional disentanglement, but a financial one as well. Most marriages coming to an end will involve corollary issues such as Property Division, Child Support and Spousal Support.  Accordingly, separating couples will be expected to exchange financial information to ensure that discussions and negotiations are transparent and fully informed.

Strictly speaking, lawyers, judges and mediators will not rely on mere representations and promises in an effort to evaluate Property Division and Support. Standard practice is for each spouse to formally and fully comply with a document that is called a “Notice to Disclose”. The Court will impose and enforce a deadline to produce requested documentation.. Failure to comply with a Notice to Disclose can result in significant penalties ordered by the Court, including costs and contempt of Court. 

What The Couple Owns & Owes

To facilitate an analysis of Property Division, the spouses would be providing information on what they own (assets) and owe (liabilities), individually and together. Typical examples of assets are houses, companies, cars, investments, pensions and cash. Typical examples of liabilities are mortgages, lines of credit and credit card debt.

What The Couple Earns

Determining Child Support and Spousal Support involves “income-driven” analyses. That being said, you will not only want to gain a sense of the spouses’ incomes, but also how they spend their money. The aim is to fully assess the spouses’ financial “means and needs” in determining how to adequately and appropriately reallocate income streams by way of Child Support and Spousal Support payments.

What Items are Disclosed?

Some of the standard items of “Financial Disclosure” requested are:

  • Income Tax Returns;
  • Pay Stubs;
  • Bank Account Statements;
  • Credit Card Statements;
  • Monthly Budget; and
  • Sworn Statement of Assets & Liabilities

There is additional information required from self-employed spouses and students.

Exchange of Financial Disclosure is a fundamental step in Divorce proceedings. Analysis of Property Division and Support cannot adequately commence without Financial Disclosure and the Alberta Courts take this obligation very seriously.

Written by Nigel Montoute

Related Posts: Financial Disclosure Obligations During Separation, How to Save on Legal Fees in a Family Law Case?