In many separation or divorce cases, challenges often arise when negotiating a financial settlement. To this end, both parties are required to provide financial disclosures.
The Family Law Act requires separating or divorcing spouses to furnish each other with full financial disclosure in Ontario. Non-compliance to this requirement attracts adverse legal implications like nullification of a divorce settlement, among others.
With or without a divorce lawyer Toronto involved, the divorce process is typically lengthy and can be financially and emotionally draining. That said, knowing the financial status of your ex is imperative to avoid unnecessary lawsuits in the future.
Divorcing spouses can make informed decisions when they are reading from the same script. In particular, they can adequately plan the future of their family, especially anything involving the children.
Financial Disclosure Explained
A common question posed to lawyers by many clients is, “how much will I receive from our matrimonial assets?” The truth is that lawyers can’t advise you comprehensively without reviewing your ex’s financial disclosure.
What is Financial Disclosure?
Financial disclosure refers to revealing your financial status or position. In other words, financial disclosures reveal your net worth in an affidavit. So what is a financial disclosure affidavit?
A financial disclosure affidavit is a detailed account of all your assets, liabilities, and sources of income. Using the affidavit, your Net worth can be calculated by deducting your total liabilities from the total assets.
Form 13 vs. Form 13.1
In Ontario, financial disclosure affidavits are court-issued financial statements. The financial statement you should complete depends on the nature of your case. You’ll either complete Form 13 or Form 13.1 financial statements. So, what’s the difference between Form 13 and Form 13.1?
Form 13 Financial Statement
Form 13 is completed when support challenges exist or when there are property claims if you’re not married. Form 13 and Form 13.1 have many similar sections.
The property disclosure section in Form 13 is limited to what the divorcing spouses individually own. A Form 13 should also be completed by couples planning to cohabit or marry.
Form 13.1 Financial Statement
Form 13.1 is completed when there are property disputes between separating spouses. The divorcing spouses are required to disclose the value of their total assets on three dates:
- The net value of assets on the date of marriage
- The net value of assets on separation, and
- The net value of assets on the date of completing the statement
The financial statement—Form 13 and 13.1, must be accompanied by supporting documents or disclosures. The supporting documents include, but are not limited to:
- Income tax and notices of assessments for the last 3 years
- Evidence of your income from all sources
- Statements supporting the net value of your assets and liabilities at the date of filling the financial statements, such as bank statements, property appraisals, pension statements, and mortgage & loan statements, among others.
Why is Financial Disclosure Important?
Financial disclosures are required in legal proceedings where the financial position of the litigating parties is important. This can include divorce cases, child support, and custody cases, among others. In the context of a divorce, financial disclosures play a vital role in planning the financial future of your children.
A financial disclosure affidavit should include supporting documents such as tax returns, bank statements, and property deeds. These documents help to verify the accuracy of the financial information provided.
Do I Have to Give Financial Disclosure?
Property division between separating or divorcing spouses is typically based on financial disclosures. By law, both parties must provide financial disclosures.
The specifics for financial disclosures can vary by jurisdiction and the complexity of the divorce case. That said, it’s imperative to consult your lawyer to understand the specific requirements and obligations in your situation.
Failing to Provide Financial Disclosure & Disclosure Irregularities
Can I refuse financial disclosure? What happens if you don’t provide financial disclosure? By law, separating or divorcing couples must provide complete and timely financial disclosures. Failure to provide a financial disclosure can result in numerous adverse consequences, including:
Delays and Expenses
Failing to provide full and timely disclosures lengthens the resolution process. You’ll also likely incur additional expenses thanks to missing the disclosure deadline.
Damaging Your Reputation and Credibility
Your reputation and credibility will undoubtedly be damaged in the eyes of your ex and court if you refuse to disclose your financial status.
Credibility plays a vital role in legal matters. Your lack of credibility or dishonesty can be used throughout the litigation process to cast doubt on your evidence or anything you say.
The court can strike off your pleadings for failing to provide a court-authorized financial disclosure. Consequently, your interests will not be considered by the court when making any future decisions.
Besides striking out your pleadings, non-compliance will invalidate the agreement reached with your ex. Prior court orders made by the court will also be invalid and hence, unenforceable.
Lying on Financial Disclosure Ontario
Lying on financial disclosure in Ontario is illegal and attracts negative legal consequences, such as penalties and fines. The court will set aside or ignore your financial disclosure— also known as a Separation Agreement in legalese.
As per the Family Law Rules, sworn and filed financial statements must be updated. Any incorrect information, error, or misrepresentation in your financial statements should be rectified as soon as they’re discovered. Alternatively, file a new statement bearing the right or correct information.
Deliberate dishonesty on your financial statements is a serious offence. The law assumes that court documents are completed or signed under oath.
Verbal warnings and fines are the typical punishments for deliberately misrepresenting financial statements. However, offenders can be imprisoned in extreme cases.
What is non financial disclosure? In the context of family law, non-financial disclosure refers to exchanging any information that’s not related to assets, liabilities, and income. This information can include parenting arrangements, custody agreements, living arrangements, or any other non-monetary aspects of the divorce settlement.
Non-financial disclosure ensures that both parties clearly understand each other’s expectations and intentions after separation. Also, non-financial disclosures facilitate a fair and equitable division of assets and liabilities.
Is the Financial Disclosure Process Expensive?
The financial disclosure process involves other professionals besides your lawyer, such as accountants. Financial disclosure processes are time-consuming and costly. The actual cost typically varies by the complexity of your financial situation and the legal requirements of the disclosure process in your jurisdiction.
How to Avoid the Costs of Financial Disclosure
Here are ways to avoid unnecessary costs of financial disclosure in family law:
Using Online Tools
Finance apps, such as budgeting software, can be used to organize financial information. These tools can track your income, expenses, and assets, smoothening the financial disclosure process.
Collaborating with Your Ex
You won’t achieve your goals without the cooperation of your ex, so the best thing is to be on good terms with them. Through collaboration, you can exchange the required information without hiring a lawyer.
Mediation is always a good option to resolve legal matters. It’s less expensive and a more friendly strategy to deal with your ex.
Neutral third-party mediators typically facilitate discussions between the transacting parties. A good mediator should listen to both parties to make a fair ruling.
How a Family Lawyer Can Help
Separations and divorces can be mentally, physically, and financially draining. You need someone who understands the process to walk with you every step of the way.
The family lawyers at Simple Divorce can help. Our team is dedicated, skilled, and experienced. We offer free initial phone reviews of your case, different payment options, and affordable retainers.
For more information about financial disclosure during separation or divorce, you can schedule a free consultation by contacting Simple Divorce at 14169017992 or emailing us at email@example.com