What documents do I need to provide my spouse after separation?

Author: Vancouver Family Lawyer Marcus M. Sixta

The exchange of information is critical in any family law case. Without the exchange of relevant information neither side in a legal action may know what their claim is, what their chance of success may be, or even if they have a case at all.

The exchange of information is called disclosure. A lack of disclosure can delay a negotiated settlement or a resolution in mediation, as without complete financial disclosure it is difficult to know how to divide family property, what the proper amount of child support is and if there may be a spousal support/alimony claim. Therefore, over the years many processes have been developed to assist and even force the exchange of important documentation in family law cases.

When issues of child support, spousal support or the division of matrimonial property are on the table, each spouse must provide certain financial documentation to the other spouse. Every province has its own requirements and there are often forms that must be completed and exchanged. These documents often have to be filed with the Court prior to bringing an application for child support, spousal support or division of family property.

In British Columbia, parties to litigation are required to exchange Form 8 Financial Statements. In Alberta, the documentation is called a Response to a Notice to Disclose. These documents are often also used when parties are attempting to settle matters out of court through negotiation, mediation or arbitration. These forms include sworn statements of income assets and liabilities, but the following must also be provided:

  • Complete Income Tax Returns for the past three years;
  • Notices of Assessment and Re-Assessment for the past three years;
  • If a spouse is an employee, the most recent statement of earnings indicating the total earnings paid in the year to date, including overtime or, where such a statement is not provided by the employer, a letter from the spouse’s employer setting out that information including the spouse’s rate of annual salary or remuneration;
  • If the spouse is a beneficiary under a trust, a copy of the trust settlement agreement and copies of the trust’s three most recent financial statement;
  • If a spouse receives income from employment insurance, social assistance, a pension, workers compensation, disability payments or any other source, the most recent statement of income indicating the total amount of income from the applicable source during the current year, or if such a statement is not provided, a letter from the appropriate authority stating the required information; and
  • If the spouse is a student, a statement indicating the total amount of student finding received during the current academic year, including loans, grants, bursaries, scholarships and living allowances.
  • If a spouse is self-employed in an unincorporated business:
    • particulars or copies of every cheque issued to you during the last 6 weeks from any business or corporation in which you have an interest, or to which you have rendered a service; 
    • the financial statements of your business or professional practice for the 3 most recent taxation years; and 
    • a statement showing a breakdown of all salaries, wages, management fees or other payments or benefits paid to yourself, or to persons or corporations with whom you do not deal at arm's length, for the 3 most recent taxation years.
  • If the spouse is a partner in a partnership, confirmation of income and draws from, and capital in, the partnership for its 3 most recent taxation years.
  • If the spouse has a 1% or more interest in a privately held corporation: 
    • the financial statements of the corporation and its subsidiaries for its 3 most recent taxation years;
    • a statement showing a breakdown of all salaries, wages, management fees or other payments or benefits paid to yourself, or to persons or corporations with whom the corporation, and every related corporation, does not deal at arm's length for the corporation's 3 most recent taxation years; and (a) the financial statements of the corporation and its subsidiaries for its 3 most recent taxation years; and
    • a record showing your shareholder's loan transactions for the past 12 months.

If child support is at issue, the following documents are required:

  • A detailed list of any special or extraordinary expenses claimed as well as copies of receipts or other documentation providing the amount of those expenses, namely: 
    • healthcare and extended medical and dental insurance premiums attributable to the child; 
    • child care costs; 
    • uninsured health care and dental expenses; 
    • extraordinary educational expenses; 
    • post-secondary educational expenses; and 
    • extraordinary expenses for extracurricular activities.

Each province also has some other additional requirements for disclosure. In Alberta, you are also required to provide copies of all statements and cancelled cheques for all bank accounts held solely or jointly in your name for the most recent 6 months and copies of credit card statements for all credit cards solely or jointly in your name for the most recent 6 months.

In British Columbia you must also provide a list of all property disposed of during the past two years or since the date of marriage (if the parties have been married for less than two years) and the most recent property assessment issued by your municipality or city for all properties that you own or have an interest in.

If additional documentation is required to determine income for the calculation of child support or spousal support, or for the valuation of property, these documents will typically also have to be provided. If your spouse can provide a good reason why they need additional financial documentation to properly calculate your income or to value the matrimonial property, it is likely that the court will order you to provide this information and may order legal costs against you if you force the matter to court. Therefore, it is most often in your interests to voluntarily provide all documentation that is needed to assess incomes and the values of assets, businesses and property. However, if you have sensitive documentation that you are hesitant to disclose for whatever reason, you should speak to a lawyer.

If the necessary financial disclosure is not provided, the BC Family Law Act and the Alberta Rules of Court provide remedies. These include orders to provide documents by a certain date, money for future legal costs, general fines or even holding the non-disclosing party in contempt of court.

If you have any concerns about the process of exchanging information with your former spouse, contact the lawyers at Crossroads Law for more information.