When people separate and embark on the legal process, through the courts or in Collaborative Law or Mediation, they must disclose to the other spouse’s lawyer everything about their financial situations. It’s called providing “financial disclosure”.
Here is what’s included in financial disclosure:
- All of your assets such as houses, bank accounts, savings, pension plans
- All of your debts such as mortgages, lines of credit, credit cards
- Insurance policies such as life insurance, health insurance or disability insurance
- All sources of income
- Sometimes a budget will be required
The lawyers need to know the financial picture of the family to be able to explain to their clients the legal principles that are applicable to the situation and to generate proposals for resolving these issues.
Spouses also need to know the full financial picture of the other spouse and their family to be able to understand the law that applies to their situation, and to be able to evaluate their options for settlement.
The more organized people are in gathering and organizing their financial papers, and the more they cooperate during the disclosure process, the less costly the legal separation will be.
As a Collaborative lawyer and Mediator whose office has a state of the art electronic filing system, I frequently recommend to clients a web-based financial disclosure system called Support Information Exchange (SIX) to facilitate the convenient exchange of financial information. https://www.supportinformationexchange.com/home.html.
SIX is gaining popularity because of its transparency and ease of use. In a recent Ontario court decision (Fehervari v. Kiss, 2013 CarswellOnt 15919 (Ont. S.C.J.), a Judge endorsed the practice of serving Family Law documents electronically through SIX.
I encourage you to try to be as organized as possible when working with your lawyer to save time and money.