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Financial Disclosure in a Family Law Case

Understandably, when there is a breakdown of a relationship there can be mistrust and a sense of vulnerability.

Divulging financial information, which many people perceive as private information, can create an increased sense of vulnerability. However, it is important that both parties are transparent and share full and complete financial information. Financial disclosure in family law is critical as decisions that will affect you and your family’s future will be made based on the financial information provided. Without it, parties cannot fairly negotiate, litigate, or have settlement discussions.

What is Financial Disclosure?

Financial disclosure means disclosing your income, debts, assets and expenses through a sworn financial statement (a court form). This includes providing documents to demonstrate that the information in your financial statement is accurate such as income tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, line of credit statements, and copies of all bank, investment and RRSP accounts. This list is not exhaustive and the documents you will need to produce will depend on the particular facts of your case.  

The duty to provide financial disclosure derives from Section 5(1) of the Family Law Act. This duty applies to all family law disputes regardless of whether you mediate, negotiate or litigate your family law matter.

Consequences of Failing to Provide Financial Disclosure

If you fail to provide financial disclosure, lie, or hide your assets, you risk a judge making an adverse inference against you. The Family Law Act allows a judge to “set aside” (meaning not enforce) any separation agreement that has not included full financial disclosure.

Failure to provide financial disclosure can also cause additional time and money spent in the long run. For example, in Florovski v. Florovski,[1] the judge ordered a husband to pay his wife $500 a day for each day of non-compliance with the court order to provide financial information. 

For more information about your obligation to provide financial disclosure, please contact one of the lawyers on our Family Law team at McKenzie Lake by email or by telephone (519) 672-5666.

This article was written by Family Lawyer Matthew Villeneuve and Summer Student Wincy Ho.

[1] 2019 ONSC 5013.