Financial Disclosure

Jun 12, 2015

By Charles Morrison, Lawyer

On The Paper Trail:

Actually, I like Forms…. kind of.  As a kid, my favourite tools were pens, pencils, rules and a clipboard. I would design lists with boxes, lines, columns and what-not.  This came in handy later in life when, as a lawyer, I designed client information sheets, checklists and other documents for the family law clients of MORRISON REIST.

In family law court proceedings, we have lots of forms.  At least 150 of them.  We use only a handful of them in a typical lawsuit. Applications start most lawsuits. A defence is filed using a document known as an Answer. There are Financial Statements, Case Conference Briefs, Settlement Conference Briefs, Affidavits, Notices of Motion, Requests to Admit and Support Deduction Orders to name only a few. Add to that list judge’s endorsements, Orders, precedent cases, documents showing proof of income, custody assessments, bank account balances, pension valuations ….. (the list goes on and on) and it is not hard to imagine why our court system is still very paper-intensive.  And the paper is heavy. Sometimes it results in paper cuts.  Digital filing and storage of court documentation has barely made inroads in Ontario.

We also have a series of written, formal rules that regulate how a court case is conducted and what forms are required.  The Family Law Rules are used in both Ontario courts (the Ontario Court of Justice and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice). They contain 43 Rules but that is deceiving because most of the rules are sub-divided into sub and sub-sub-sections.  There are Rules that prescribe how a family law action is started, how it is defended, what information is to be provided, how settlement offers are made, how witnesses can be questioned and how trials are conducted, to mention only a few. The Rules are pretty complicated and detailed.

Rule 13 deals with the important issue of financial disclosure and, in particular, Financial Statements.  The Financial Statement is a long multi-sectioned grid-like template which we complete in order to disclose income, expenses, assets and liabilities among other things.  Until recently Rule 13 had 30 sub-sections.  Now it has a lot more. And there are new Forms.

As a small, small example, I am including an excerpt from the ‘new’ Rule 13:

13.  (1)  If  an  application,  answer  or  motion  contains  a  claim  for  support,  a  property  claim,  or  a  claim  for  exclusive possession  of  the  matrimonial  home  and  its  contents,

(a)    the  party  making  the  claim  shall  serve  and  file  a  financial  statement  (Form  13  or  13.1)  with  the  document  that contains  the  claim;;  and

(b)    the  party  against  whom  the  claim  is  made  shall  serve  and  file  a  financial  statement  within  the  time  for  serving and  filing  an  answer,  reply  or  affidavit  or  other  document  responding  to  the  motion,  whether  the  party  is  serving an  answer,  reply  or  affidavit  or  other  document  responding  to  the  motion  or  not.    O.  Reg.  92/03,  s.  1  (1);;  O.  Reg. 151/08,  s.  2  (1,  2).

FORM  13  FOR  SUPPORT  CLAIM  WITHOUT  PROPERTY  CLAIM

(1.1)  If  the  application,  answer  or  motion  contains  a  claim  for  support  but  does  not  contain  a  property  claim  or  a  claim for  exclusive  possession  of  the  matrimonial  home  and  its  contents,  the  financial  statement  used  by  the  parties  under  these rules  shall  be  in  Form  13.    O.  Reg.  92/03,  s.  1  (1);;  O.  Reg.  151/08,  s.  2  (3).

FORM  13.1  FOR  PROPERTY  CLAIM  WITH  OR  WITHOUT  SUPPORT  CLAIM

(1.2)  If  the  application,  answer  or  motion  contains  a  property  claim  or  a  claim  for  exclusive  possession  of  the matrimonial  home  and  its  contents,  the  financial  statement  used  by  the  parties  under  these  rules  shall  be  in  Form  13.1, whether  a  claim  for  support  is  also  included  or  not.    O.  Reg.  92/03,  s.  1  (1);;  O.  Reg.  151/08,  s.  2  (3).

EXCEPTION,  CERTAIN  SUPPORT  CLAIMS

(1.3)  If  the  only  claim  for  support  contained  in  the  application,  answer  or  motion  is  a  claim  for  child  support  in  the amount  specified  in  the  table  of  the  applicable  child  support  guidelines,  the  party  making  the  claim  is  not  required  to  file  a financial  statement,  unless  the  application,  answer  or  motion  also  contains  a  property  claim  or  a  claim  for  exclusive possession  of  the  matrimonial  home  and  its  contents.    O.  Reg.  92/03,  s.  1  (1);;  O.  Reg.  151/08,  s.  2  (3,  4).

EXCEPTION,  FAMILY  ARBITRATION  CLAIM

(1.4)  If  the  only  claim  contained  in  the  application,  answer  or  motion  is  a  claim  under  the  Arbitration  Act,  1991  or  the Family  Law  Act  relating  to  a  family  arbitration,  family  arbitration  agreement  or  family  arbitration  award,  the  party  making  the claim  is  not  required  to  file  a  financial  statement,  unless  the  court  orders  otherwise.  O.  Reg.  388/12,  s.  5.

CLAIM  FOR  PAYMENT  ORDER  UNDER  CFSA

(2)    If  an  application,  answer  or  notice  of  motion  contains  a  claim  for  a  payment  order  under  section  60  of  the  Child  and Family  Services  Act,  clause  (1)  (a)  does  not  apply  to  the  children’s  aid  society  but  clause  (1)  (b)  applies  to  the  party  against whom  the  claim  is  made.    O.  Reg.  114/99,  r.  13  (2);;  O.  Reg.  92/03,  s.  1  (2).

FINANCIAL  STATEMENTS  IN  CUSTODY  AND  ACCESS  CASES

(3)    If  an  application,  answer  or  motion  contains  a  claim  for  custody  of  or  access  to  a  child  and  this  rule  does  not otherwise  require  the  parties  to  serve  and  file  financial  statements,  the  court  may  order  each  party  to  serve  and  file  a financial  statement  in  Form  13  within  the  time  decided  by  the  court.    O.  Reg.  92/03,  s.  1  (3);;  O.  Reg.  151/08,  s.  2  (5).

ADDITIONAL REQUIRED FINANCIAL DISCLOSURE, SUPPORT CLAIM

(3.1)                  A  party  who  is  required  under  subrules  (1)  to  (3)  to  serve  and  file  a  financial  statement  in  relation  to  a  claim  for support  shall,  before  the  deadline  set  out  in  subrule  (3.2),  serve  with  the  financial  statement  the  following  information, unless  the  court  orders  otherwise:

1.     The  income  and  financial  information  referred  to  in  subsection  21  (1)  of  the  child  support  guidelines.

2.     If  the  party  became  unemployed  within  the  last  three  years,

i.       a  complete  copy  of  the  party’s  Record  of  Employment,  or  other  evidence  of  termination,  and

ii.      a  statement  of  any  benefits  or  income  that  the  party  is  still  entitled  to  receive  from  his  or  her  former  employer despite  or  as  a  result  of  the  termination.

3.     In  the  case  of  a  claim  for  the  support  of  a  child,  proof  of  the  amount  of  any  special  or  extraordinary  expenses, within  the  meaning  of  section  7  of  the  child  support  guidelines.  O.  Reg.  69/15, s.  3 (2).

TIMING OF REQUIREMENT

(3.2)                  The  party  shall  serve  the  information  referred  to  in  subrule  (3.1),

(a)    with  the  financial  statement,  if  the  application,  answer  or  motion  contains  a  claim  for  support  but  does  not  contain a  property  claim;;  or

(b)    with  the  documents  required  to  be  served  under  subrule  (3.3)  or  (3.4),  as  the  case  may  be,  if  the  application, answer  or  motion  contains  a  property  claim.  O.  Reg.  69/15, s.  3 (2).

ADDITIONAL  REQUIRED  FINANCIAL  DISCLOSURE,  CLAIM  UNDER  PART  I  OF  THE FAMILY  LAW  ACT

(3.3)  A  party  who  is  required  under  subrules  (1)  to  (3)  to  serve  and  file  a  financial  statement  in  relation  to  a  claim  under Part  I  of  the  Family  Law  Act  shall,  no  later  than  30  days  after  the  day  by  which  the  financial  statement  is  required  to  be served,  serve  on  the  other  party  the  following  information,  unless  the  court  orders  otherwise:

1.     The  statement  issued  closest  to  the  valuation  date  for  each  bank  account  or  other  account  in  a  financial  institution, pension,  registered  retirement  or  other  savings  plan,  and  any  other  savings  or  investments  in  which  the  party  had an  interest  on  that  date.

2.     A  copy  of  an  application  or  request  made  by  the  party  to  obtain  a  valuation  of  his  or  her  own  pension  benefits, deferred  pension  or  pension,  as  the  case  may  be,  if  any,  as  of  the  valuation  date.

3.     A  copy  of  the  Municipal  Property  Assessment  Corporation’s  assessment  of  any  real  property  in  Ontario  in  which the  party  had  a  right  or  interest  on  the  valuation  date,  for  the  year  in  which  that  date  occurred.

4.     If  the  party  owned  a  life  insurance  policy  on  the  valuation  date,  the  statement  issued  closest  to  that  date  showing the  face  amount  and  cash  surrender  value,  if  any,  of  the  policy,  and  the  named  beneficiary.

5.     If  the  party  had  an  interest  in  a  sole  proprietorship  or  was  self-­employed  on  the  valuation  date,  for  each  of  the three  years  preceding  that  date,

i.  the  financial  statements  of  the  party’s  business  or  professional  practice,  other  than  a  partnership,  and ii.  a  copy  of  every  personal  income  tax  return  filed  by  the  party,  including  any  materials  that  were  filed  with  the return.

6.     If  the  party  was  a  partner  in  a  partnership  on  the  valuation  date,  a  copy  of  the  partnership  agreement  and,  for  each of  the  three  years  preceding  the  valuation  date,

i.       a  copy  of  every  personal  income  tax  return  filed  by  the  party,  including  any  materials  that  were  filed  with  the return,  and

ii.      the financial  statements  of  the  partnership.

7.     If  the  party  had  an  interest  in  a  corporation  on  the  valuation  date,  documentation  showing  the  number  and  types  of shares  of  the  corporation  and  any  other  interests  in  the  corporation  that  were  owned  by  the  party  on  that  date.

8.     If  the  corporation  in  which  a  party  had  an  interest  was  privately  held,  for  each  of  the  three  years  preceding  the valuation  date,

i.  the  financial  statements  for  the  corporation  and  its  subsidiaries,  and ii.  if  the  interest  was  a  majority  interest,  a  copy  of  every  income  tax  return  filed  by  the  corporation.

9.     If  the  party  was  a  beneficiary  under  a  trust  on  the  valuation  date,  a  copy  of  the  trust  settlement  agreement  and  the trust’s  financial  statements  for  each  of  the  three  years  preceding  that  date.

10.   Documentation  showing  the  value,  on  the  valuation  date,  of  any  property  not  referred  to  in  paragraphs  1  to  9  in which  the  party  had  an  interest  on  that  date.

11.   Documentation  that  supports  a  claim,  if  any,  for  an  exclusion  under  subsection  4  (2)  of  the  Family  Law  Act.

12.   The  statements  or  invoices  issued  closest  to  the  valuation  date  in  relation  to  any  mortgage,  line  of  credit,  credit card  balance  or  other  debt  owed  by  the  party  on  that  date.

13.   Any  available  documentation  showing  the  value,  on  the  date  of  marriage,  of  property  that  the  party  owned  or  in which  he  or  she  had  an  interest  on  that  date,  and  the  amount  of  any  debts  owed  by  the  party  on  that  date.  O.  Reg. 69/15,  s.  3  (2).

ADDITIONAL  REQUIRED  FINANCIAL  DISCLOSURE,  OTHER  PROPERTY  CLAIMS

(3.4)  A  party  who  is  required  under  subrules  (1)  to  (3)  to  serve  and  file  a  financial  statement  in  relation  to  a  property claim  other  than  a  claim  under  Part  I  of  the  Family  Law  Act  shall,  no  later  than  30  days  after  the  day  by  which  the  financial statement  is  required  to  be  served,  serve  on  the  other  party  any  information  necessary  to  support  the  claim,  unless  the  court orders  otherwise.  O.  Reg.  69/15,  s.  3  (2).

If you read through all of this without quitting or without your eyes glazing over, you have my congratulations. I hope that, at least, you see my point.

Our legal system tries to ensure Fairness.  Both you and your opponent have the right to have their day in Court. You even have the right to be “wrong”. You have the right to know the details of your opponent’s case and they have the right to know yours. Financial information must be disclosed in detail, preferably at an early stage of the lawsuit.  No lawsuits-by-ambush. No eleventh hour information that could have been disclosed earlier.

The Rule 13 amendments require parties to a lawsuit not only to complete their Financial Statements on time but also to gather together all kinds of documentation. Where there are property claims, they must obtain and exchange within a short (30 day) time period copies of documents as close to the separation date as possible. These documents are important in showing his or her “net family property” (net worth) and can include, for example bank records, company financial documents, pension statements, VISA bills, municipal tax assessments and many others.  You then have to complete a new form known as a Form 13A Certificate of Financial Disclosure which lists each of the documents that you have provided to your opponent and certifies that the list is accurate and complete. You then file the Certificate in court.

The Rules and Forms closely regulate the way in which the lawsuit is to be conducted, in order to ensure fairness. But in practice, we often have too much paper to fill in and it can be very repetitive. When there is a need to further regulate the court process or even just ‘tweak’ existing court procedure, the solution has too often been over the years to add yet another Form and expand the Rules. We seldom see a form deleted or several Forms combined and simplified.

With so many self-represented parties in Court nowadays, I can understand why the process is difficult to get through let alone how they can navigate their way through all this.   Although the Forms are designed to help self-represented individuals complete them, that takes time, patience and sometimes trial & error.  Forms and Rules will not by themselves educate you about how family law deals with custody of children, support, property division and divorce The assistance of an experienced family lawyer is all the more crucial.