Financial Disclosure in Ontario
Gail Vaz-Oxlade is author of 16 books on finances and best known in her role as host of TV’s Til Debt Do Us Part, Princess and Money Moron.
Ask Gail Vaz-Oxlade
For most people divorce is less about legalities and more about kids, tax implications and making smart money decisions. Best-selling financial author Gail Vaz-Oxlade brings common sense wisdom to answer your questions about Separation Agreements and divorce in Ontario.
“One of the first questions a reputable lawyer will always ask you is “Where are your financial disclosures and have you reviewed your spouse’s disclosures?”
Lawyers ask this because they want to make sure nothing is accidentally missed, that there has not been a misunderstanding of values and to make sure there is no one is hiding anything. Without reviewing financial disclosures from both spouses, a lawyer cannot properly give legal advice on your separation agreement.”
What is Financial Disclosure & Why do I need it?
When you separate, preparing your Financial Disclosure ensures that everyone is able to make all-important money decisions based on real and accurate financial information.
Financial Disclosure protects you, by ensuring that you have the information you need to make decisions. It ensures that both spouses are being transparent and not forgetting or trying to hide anything (assets or debts).
Financial disclosure is the legal process where both you and your spouse literally provide not only the balances but also copies of all documentation and statements regarding all bank accounts, savings, cash on hand, investments, pensions, and any other possessions – as well as revealing any money owed, debts and liabilities.
During the process. a professionals will review all of your financial disclosure documents and will confirm bank balances, account statements, property values, verify RRSPs, and/or gather any necessary information on the value of a privately owned business.
A formal pension valuation (which is different from a pension statement) is required. This means there will be no mistakes; no misunderstandings; no secrets; and both spouses are protected. After you and your spouse finally reach an agreement and before you sign any documents, your financial disclosure should be reviewed by a lawyer to ensure that you are satisfied with your knowledge of the family finances.
How to Avoid A Messy Divorce
- Seriously consider mediation before lawyer litigation
- If at all possible, stay out of the Family Courts
- Gather and organize your financial documents
- Do your homework, understand how divorce works in Ontario
What if I don’t want to complete a financial disclosure?
On May 2nd, 2015, the Family Law Rules in Ontario were updated to include additional requirements for financial disclosure. The law has one simple stipulation: full and complete financial disclosure is required by both spouses. Though the information in the financial disclosure is important – what really matters is that there has been a full and formal financial disclosure.
Will it affect my separation agreement?
The Family Law Act allows the Court to “set aside” (meaning ‘not enforce’) any separation agreement that has not included a full financial disclosure. If your separation agreement is not prepared properly from the beginning and is then later “set aside,” you will have spent yourself more time and money in the long run. Financial disclosure is a core piece of the separation puzzle. Yet, for whatever reason, people sometimes have difficulty with the concept of full financial disclosure. Typical objections include:
Financial Disclosure Excuses
- “That information is from before we separated, so it isn’t applicable now.”
- “My spouse already knows all this information.”
- “I don’t want my private information reviewed by anyone.”
- “We are splitting everything up on our own terms, so this information isn’t necessary.”
- “Financial disclosure just seems like too much work.”
- “I’m afraid if my spouse (or their lawyer) sees the real numbers they will come after me for more.”
“Can’t I just take my own homemade Separation Agreement to a Lawyer and get them to sign it?”
A credible lawyer will never just sign off on someone else’s document. They are required to give you their opinion and their legal advice based on the information provided. Lawyers can get into big trouble with the Law Society of Ontario if they give advice without reviewing the compete scenario and your full financial disclosures.
Without complete financial disclosure, a lawyer cannot give you proper legal advice.
What To Expect When You Call The Common Sense Divorce
Not everyone is ready to talk with someone in person. You can call the Common Sense Divorce at anytime and hear a pre-recorded 2 min message about our services.
We will gladly take the time to speak with you about our services and the divorce process in Ontario. The Common Sense Divorce offers a free 20 min telephone assessment and consultation.
We understand that this is a difficult time and calling us is a big step. We are going to work hard to make this phone call easier, make you feel at ease and make sure that we respect your privacy.
We understand that you may be just researching and have not made any decisions. We do not assume that because you are calling, that this means you are divorcing.