In most family law matters, each person is expected to provide his/her financial information to the other person at the start, and then with updates all the way through, until the financial issues are resolved. The financial information goes to your lawyer, the other person, and often to the court or arbitrator. Being organized and providing the relevant financial information is important.
1. It is the law.
2. It is practical.
An easy way to reduce legal fees and speed up the process is to provide your complete financial information early. Ask your lawyer what you need to provide.
3. It is necessary.
Property division, child support and spousal support are all issues that cannot be decided without all the financial information. Incomplete or inaccurate information can lead to poor decisions.
4. The lawyers need the information.
Your lawyer needs the information to advise you on the ranges of resolution.
5. The Judges and arbitrators also need the information.
Judges and arbitrators need this information to make wise and informed decisions regarding your case.
6. It can save you money.
If you do not provide your required financial information, you can be penalized in a “Costs” Order” (pay money to the other person), or have income imputed against you, or face multiple court dates (and increased legal fees). As a payor, if you are underpaying support, you may face a claim for substantial retroactive support. Or, perhaps you are paying too much and a reduction of support is appropriate.
In some cases, the recipient of support can weaken his or her claim by not providing enough of his or her own financial information. For example, you may have paid $3000 for hockey, but if you don’t give the information/receipt to your ex-spouse, lawyer or court, you may lose that claim.
7. In Alberta, the default property division is at “current” dates or values.
This is one reason why the information is always being updated until the property resolution is reached.
8. In Alberta, child support can be updated annually.
This is also why usually there is an annual exchange of tax returns and income information.
9. There are still rules and limits.
There are still rules and limits on what financial information must be provided at different stages and for different issues. And, there are rules on what the other person can do with your financial information.
Also, there are steps you can take to both fully disclose the financial information and maintain confidentiality from third parties. Ask your lawyer for details.
If privacy is particularly important, talk to your lawyer about confidentiality agreements, or private processes such as arbitration or collaborative family law.
If you need assistance navigating this or other types of family law issues, please do not hesitate to contact us to see how we may be able to assist you.
– Written by Ceri Chwieros