By Millad Ossudallah, Vancouver Legal Coach
Non-disclosure of financial assets is typically the biggest challenge in family law as it is an important step to start or progress your matter. A party seeking a divorce, a common law separation, property division, or a review and variation of a support order requires financial disclosure. This enables an accurate determination of a person’s income and the valuation of assets and debts.
There is a duty to provide full financial disclosure pursuant to the Family Law Act, the Supreme Court Family Rules, and the Federal Child Support Guidelines. In addition, a party making a claim through a Notice of Family Claim or a party responding to a claim through a Response to Family Claim and/or Counterclaim, must serve a Form F8 Financial Statement within 30 days of serving the document in which the claim is made.
What Are the Steps to Obtain Disclosure?
There is a duty to disclose, in which a party to a family law dispute must provide to the other party full and true information for the purpose of resolving a family law dispute. If you are dealing with a difficult party, it is prudent to exchange a Form F8 Financial Statement within 30 days of serving a document in which a claim is made.
Secondly, it is imperative to schedule a Judicial Case Conference (“JCC”) and canvass the other party’s availability immediately, as there is a requirement to exchange Form F8 Financial Statements seven (7) days before a JCC. By scheduling a JCC, it will force the other party to comply with the Supreme Court Family Rules and to produce a Form F8 Financial Statement which is a requirement, and this step will assist with issues of income and valuations of assets and/or debts.
Thirdly, a party should raise the issue of exchanging Lists of Documents. A party who files a Notice of Family Claim or a Response to Family Claim, must within 35 days after serving or being served, produce a List of Documents. A List of Documents is an index of documents that are or have been in the party’s possession or control, that will be used by any party at trial. Generally, parties will list their personal and/or business financials, documents substantiating property exclusions, bank statements, etc.
How to Address Inaccurate Disclosure?
Upon receiving the opposing party’s Form F8 Financial Statement and List of Documents, it will enable a party to determine the accuracy of this information. If a party is misleading in a Form F8 Financial Statement or has incorrectly completed this document, this issue can be raised at the JCC and a subsequent Form F8 Financial Statement can be requested from the opposing party. Moreover, upon a List of Documents being exchanged, a party may make a demand for additional documents. For example, if a party has not disclosed their bank statements and there are issues with income and/or assets, a party may make a written demand requesting this disclosure where, within 35 days, the other party must respond and comply.
The Last Resort
Once you have exhausted your attempts through written correspondence to obtain the other party’s disclosure, exchanged Form F8 Financial Statements and Lists of Documents and have attended a JCC, the next recommended step would be to bring a court application to obtain any outstanding disclosure.
Depending on the documents received from the other party, it may also be prudent to set an examination for discovery. This step will allow a party to examine the other party’s oral testimony on record before a court reporter where a party’s demeanor can be challenged and questioned. It is suggested that the three above steps and a court application for disclosure are brought before an examination for discovery is set, as the production of additional documents can be demanded at examination.
The courts have described non-disclosure as the cancer of family litigation. It is important to discuss non-disclosure concerns with your legal coach to ensure that the appropriate steps are taken to remedy the situation, such as seeking a court application with costs and special costs to follow. Call the team at Coach My Case today to get started.