In Ontario, if either party to a divorce or separation is making a claim for support, property division or exclusive possession of the family home, both parties have an obligation to provide financial information, called disclosure, to the opposing party. As part of disclosure, both parties are required to disclose all relevant financial information, regardless of whether the opposing spouse requests it. Relevant information includes all items that show a party’s income or shows the value for a piece of property, including items like income tax returns, paystubs, bank records, and property appraisals. The obligation to provide disclosure is ongoing throughout the claim, meaning that both parties are required to update financial information as new details become available.
As a party to a divorce or separation, your first instinct may be to avoid providing disclosure and make the other spouse do all the digging for financial information. However, refusing to provide disclosure can often be detrimental to your family matter and work against your interests.
First, refusing to provide disclosure does not mean that your spouse is then prevented from ever obtaining that piece of information. Instead it forces them to bring a motion before the court to request a court order forcing you to provide the missing information. In the event your spouse brings a motion, you will be forced to answer to a Judge and explain why you have not fulfilled your ongoing obligation. In addition, you may be required to pay costs to the other party for forcing them to go to court in order to obtain the disclosure.
Second, exchanging financial information is actually to your benefit – disclosure facilitates negotiation and often a faster resolution of your matter. Without disclosure, it can be almost impossible to reach a resolution. Once financial information is exchanged, the parties can get straight to discussions about solving the issues. Refusing disclosure really only places a roadblock in the litigation that is costly and time consuming to overcome.
If you need a family law lawyer in Toronto to help with the disclosure process, set up a free consultation with one of our lawyers in the Toronto office. We have experience dealing with the disclosure process and would be happy to help. We have offices in Downtown Toronto, Burlington, Newmarket, and Vaughan for your convenience.