To Disclose or Not to Disclose, That Is the Question

I am often asked, by Family Law clients, the question “why do you need all of these documents?”

 

They are referring to the 16 categories of financial records outlined in a “Notice to Disclose Application” (Court form FL-17) https://albertacourts.ca › docs › default-source › form-fl-17

To deal with child support, spousal support, or matrimonial property, there needs to be accurate information about each person’s incomes, assets, and liabilities. Failing to provide financial disclosure increases the costs for everyone involved in the dispute.

 

The Alberta Rules of Court at rule 5.2 defines proper disclosure as being anything that “could reasonably be expected

(a) To significantly help determine one or more of the issues raised in the pleadings, or

(b) To ascertain evidence that could reasonably be expected to significantly help determine one or more of the issues raised in the pleadings.”

Sections 21-25 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines put an obligation on parents to provide ‘necessary’ income information. Necessary for what you might ask. Necessary for the proper amount of child and spousal support to be calculated. The courts have also held that parties involved in a dispute over matrimonial property have an obligation to provide full and honest information about matrimonial assets.

 

The Supreme Court of Canada has stated that negotiations between separating couples should be free from “informational exploitation” and that each party has a “duty to make full and honest disclosure of all relevant financial information”.

Madam Justice Moen of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench (if you do any research into Alberta Family Law cases this is a name you will come across repeatedly) has said that parties should not have to go on a scavenger hunt to find family assets. Again, she mentions the obligation to provide all information necessary to determine the value of matrimonial property and parents incomes for the purposes of child support ( which is not the same as the income on your Tax Return) , even if the information is not specifically requested. Concealing or misrepresenting assets is not to be tolerated.

 

If it is later found out that a party did not share ‘relevant’ and ‘necessary’ information about incomes, assets and debts the whole agreement or court decision can be reopened if the other party (the ‘victim’ of the concealment) asks the court to do that.

 

People complain about the cost of legal services. These same people are usually either the concealer or the person information is being concealed from. If you sit in any Courtroom any morning or afternoon you will see how many times Judges are asked to force someone to give the proper information.

The list of required and necessary documents in Court form FL 17 is just the beginning. And, it is the place to start.

The Art & Science of Dispute Resolution

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