“My spouse has always been secretive about financial matters, and I have no information about our finances except for what I see on the statements for our joint account. Can I find out about what my spouse earns and the state of his investments?”
Complete financial disclosure must be made by both parties. No settlement by agreement or court order can be made without full disclosure by each side of all relevant financial information. This involves the production of copies of income tax returns, and the completion by each party of a comprehensive form of financial statement showing income, living expenses, all assets of every description together with their value, and all liabilities. Documents verifying items in the financial statement may be required. Your lawyer cannot give you intelligent advice, and you cannot give your lawyer intelligent instructions on the resolution of financial issues such as support unless the information exchange is comprehensive and complete. Financial disclosure is the most important step in any negotiation. A failure to make complete disclosure may result in a settlement whether by agreement or court order being set aside.
Gary Joseph and Michael Stangarone are lawyers with Toronto’s MacDonald & Partners family-law firm.