By Cheryl Goldhart
Founder and Principal of Goldhart Law and Goldhart Mediation & Arbitration

Going through a separation or divorce is a challenging journey, both emotionally and financially. A pivotal step in this process is the complete disclosure of your financial situation to your former partner. Full and frank financial disclosure is a cornerstone of family law in Ontario, yet the prospect of revealing the details of your financial life can be overwhelming. This guide aims to demystify financial disclosure during separation or divorce in Ontario, providing you with essential insights and steps.

The Importance of Financial Disclosure

Financial disclosure is critical for several reasons in the context of separation or divorce:

  • It ensures fairness and transparency, enabling both parties to make informed decisions regarding property division, support, and other settlement matters.
  • It provides a clear picture of the couple’s finances, including assets, liabilities, income, and expenses, facilitating a fair assessment of marital property.
  • It aids in mediation, arbitration, and negotiation processes, allowing for open discussions and compromises on financial issues.
  • It simplifies court proceedings, if necessary, by providing comprehensive documentation that can expedite the process.

What Does Financial Disclosure Entail?

In Ontario, financial disclosure primarily involves completing the Financial Statement (Property and Support Claims) (Form 13.1), available for download here.

For cases involving only support claims, Form 13 (Support Claims) is the appropriate document. Form 13.1 requires detailed information on:

  • Income and expenses
  • Assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, pensions, and personal property
  • Debts and liabilities

Supporting documents, such as bank statements, tax returns, and appraisals, are also necessary to substantiate the information provided in Form 13.1.

Beyond Form 13.1, additional financial details must be disclosed, including:

  • Business interests
  • Trust beneficiaries
  • Inheritances
  • Gifts and loans
  • Debts owed to third parties
  • Employment and income specifics

Preparing Your Financial Disclosure Documents

To prepare effective financial disclosure documents, consider the following tips:

  • Start organizing early. Gather financial documents well before your deadline to avoid errors or omissions.
  • Follow checklists. The Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General provides a guide for completing, filing, and serving Form 13.1, available here.
  • Be accurate and truthful. Ensure all information is correct to prevent discrepancies and conflicts.
  • Verify all figures. Cross-check amounts against original documents to avoid calculation errors.
  • Include supporting documentation. Validate your financial details with concrete evidence.
  • Maintain records. Keep copies of all disclosed documents organized for future reference.
  • Seek professional advice when needed. For complex valuations or income determinations, consult a family lawyer or financial expert. At Goldhart Law, we’re here to assist with your financial disclosure and other family law matters.
  • Disclose voluntarily and update as necessary. Transparency builds trust, and keeping your financial disclosure current is crucial.

Understanding Equalization of Net Family Property

Equalization of net family property is a fundamental aspect of financial disclosure, aiming to fairly divide assets accumulated during the marriage. Key points include:

  • The calculation of net family property, considering assets, debts, and liabilities on the separation date.
  • Exemptions for certain assets, such as inheritances and pre-relationship property.
  • The equalization payment, designed to ensure a fair division of marital assets.

Seeking Expert Guidance

Navigating financial disclosure can be complex. Engaging professionals such as family lawyers, financial advisors, business valuators, accountants, and mediators can provide invaluable support throughout the process. At Goldhart Law, we specialize in offering expert guidance on financial disclosure and family law matters, ensuring a smooth and efficient resolution to your separation or divorce.

Income Determination for Support Purposes

Accurately determining income is crucial for establishing fair support payments. Key considerations include:

  • Starting with recent tax returns and adjusting as necessary.
  • Addressing income from various sources, including employment, self-employment, investments, and non-taxable sources.
  • Avoiding income manipulation tactics to ensure transparency and trust.

The Impact of Tax Considerations

Tax implications are an important aspect of financial disclosure, affecting asset transfers, support payments, and property sales. Consulting with tax professionals can help you navigate these considerations effectively.

The Role of Budgets and Projections

Providing detailed budgets and income/expense projections can facilitate discussions about future support arrangements, offering a realistic view of post-divorce financial life.

Moving Forward with Financial Disclosure

While financial disclosure can be daunting, approaching it with organization, accuracy, and transparency will greatly benefit your separation or divorce process. With the right knowledge and expert support, you can navigate this step confidently and constructively.

Expert Guidance: Navigating the Financial Landscape

At Goldhart Law, we’re committed to assisting you with financial disclosure and navigating the complexities of family law. Our expertise and compassionate approach ensure you’re well-prepared for the journey ahead. Explore our range of services, including mediation, arbitration, and RAPID RESOLUTION, at Goldhart Mediation & Arbitration for alternative solutions to court proceedings.

For further information regarding family law matters, you may be intersested in our Navigating Family Law: Essential Guide Through Divorce and Separation.

Financial Disclosure FAQ

Q: Is full financial disclosure mandatory?

A: Yes, in Ontario family law, comprehensive financial disclosure is required.

Q: What if I’m missing some documents?

A: Provide as much information as possible, including estimates for missing details, and explain any gaps.

Q: What should I do if there are errors in my disclosure?

A: Correct any inaccuracies as soon as they’re identified to maintain the integrity of the process.

Q: Can I withhold certain financial information?

A: All relevant financial details must be disclosed.

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Cheryl Goldhart is a family law lawyer who can make a difference in resolving your family disputes.

  • Nearly Four Decades in Family Law: Cheryl has almost 40 years of experience practicing exclusively family law.
  • Masters Degree in Counselling: Her Masters degree in  Cousnelling provides her with a unique combination of empathy and insight.
  • Certified Family Law Specialist by the Law Society: Cheryl’s specialization in family law is certified by the Law Society of Ontario, marking her a Certified Family Law Specialist.
  • Ontario Association for Family Mediation Accredited Mediator: Her mediation expertise is recognized with accreditation from the Ontario Association for Family Mediation.
  • ADR Professional Designation by ADR Institute: Cheryl’s expertise as an arbitrator is accredited by Ontario’s ADR Institute.
  • Recipient of Numerous Accolades, Awards and Honours: Cheryl’s contributions to family law have been recognized with numerous awards and honours, including the prestigious Ontario Bar Association’s Award for Excellence in Family Law.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Consult with a qualified family law attorney for advice regarding your specific situation. Goldhart Law Professional Corporation is not responsible for any actions taken based on the information presented in this blog.


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