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Recent Amendments to the Family Law Rules – A Helpful Reminder About Financial Disclosure

In December of 2021, the Government of Ontario enacted slight amendments to the Family Law Rules

Of particular interest is Rule 8.0.1, which introduces a new automatic order in family law cases. This order is designed to provide guidance to the parties respecting their financial disclosure rights and obligations. 

New Automatic Orders Under the FLR: 

Rule 8.0.1 applies to claims made on or after February 1, 2022 respecting: 

  • (a)   decision-making responsibility or parenting time; 
  • (b)  net family property; 
  • (c)   the matrimonial home; or, 
  • (d)  spousal support. 

On the making of any of the above claims, an automatic order (Form 8.0.1) will be issued and provided to the party making the claim. 

There are exceptions to this rule, such as cases proceeding on consent or child protection matters. 

Service of the Automatic Order: 

The party to whom the automatic order is provided shall serve it on every other party in the case. 

If the claim is made in an application, the automatic order must be served together with the application. 

If the claim is made in an answer, motion to change, or a response to a motion to change, the automatic order shall be served promptly, but not later than seven days after it is issued. 

Substance of the Order: 

While the new automatic order imposes a requirement on the recipient to serve it on the other parties, it does not change the parties’ substantive rights. Form 8.0.1 simply outlines each party’s existing financial disclosure responsibilities under Rule 13 of the FLR

It is worth noting that in September of 2021, the service requirements for financial statements did undergo slight modifications that are reflected in the new automatic order. 

For example, for case conferences, motions and settlement conferences, the relevant financial statements must be updated at least 6 days before the hearing for the moving party (previously 7 days). The responding party must serve and file their forms within 4 days before the hearing. 

For trials, the relevant financial statements must be updated no later than 30 days before the earlier of the trial or trial sittings. 

The automatic order makes it clear which documents each party must serve, and when they must serve them. 

Looking Forward: 

In Michel v Graydon, the Supreme Court of Canada recently stated that “the failure to disclosure material information is the cancer of family law litigation”. Given that self-representation is an increasing trend in family law, it is likely that the purpose of this automatic order is to provide self-represented litigants in particular with a clear framework of their financial disclosure rights and obligations. 

While the introduction of the automatic order may seem to be a minor change, it will hopefully clarify parties’ financial disclosure obligations, which can be the cause of significant delay and confusion. 

This article was written by Family Law Lawyer Matt Villeneuve and Articling Student Aaron Ender.

If you require assistance with any family law matter, speak to a family lawyer at McKenzie Lake Lawyers LLP by calling (519) 672-5666.