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The Dreaded Financial Disclosure

Unfortunately, there is no way around financial disclosures in a divorce or separation. In fact, it is the key to dividing assets. It is not fun and makes people feel vulnerable and sometimes embarrassed, as this is typically a private matter…unless you’re going through a divorce or separation. It is kind of like going to the dentist; nobody likes going, but it must be done.

Other than if children are involved, I would say this is the most difficult aspect of the divorce or separation process.

The discussions and questions that surround a financial disclosure seem endless, and I have personal experience with this not only as a Family Law lawyer, but as someone who also went through a divorce. Even though I knew exactly what to do, it took months. I am not going to lie – it was agony.


You are trying to prove the value of all your assets at the date of marriage (DOM) to the date of separation (DOS), and to determine the value of debts at DOM and DOS to calculate net family property (the increase in your net worth throughout the marriage). Because this is required for the divorce or separation process, exact values in income, savings, assets and debt from the DOM and the DOS must be calculated.


so sometimes the documents cannot be located, especially for the DOM. When this happens, I tell my clients that they need to make the dreaded trip to the basement or attic and go through those brown boxes filled with old financial files, (which we all have! Ack!) and go through all the paperwork to find records that can back up or support your memory and claims.


For example, if you recall buying mutual funds at the DOM, does your tax return from that year (which you can order from CRA), show investment income or RRSP contributions? If so, that is a legal supporting document that we can use.


Making the financial disclosure is hard work. It gets harder when your soon-to-be former spouse is claiming the opposite of what you are claiming. When this happens, whoever can produce the records wins the point.


An example that comes to mind is a case I had where the opposing party denied that my client brought money and a car into the marriage and that they came with debt. After my client produced their auto loan and insurance receipts, along with her run-of-the-mill bank statements from DOM, the opposing party’s claim was nothing more than dust in the wind and we moved on to the next issue.


It will amaze you of how small things, like remembering where you put a bank statement, can become stressful and overwhelming when going through a divorce or separation. I have been there, and I know from personal experience.


Fortunately, if you know where to go, who to talk to and what to do, the path is a little easier to navigate. Berry Family Law has this experience and can show you the way.


I always tell my clients, if you have a financial form, or any kind, save it and bring it to me. More often than not, it is useful in some way, as we are trying to rebuild and confirm your financial history from DOM to DOS and the more evidence we have, the better.


So, start gathering information, put any financial document you think will help into a file folder, as these documents are the most important pieces of proof you can bring to the table. If you can back up your claims with legal papers, you will be just fine.

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