The need for full and frank financial disclosure is well known amongst the family law bar and has been the subject of numerous Court of Appeal decisions. But, the proper route to getting that disclosure as efficiently and effectively as possible can be something of a quagmire. In this paper, we review the fundamental mechanics of the Family Law Rules regarding disclosure.
The starting point for disclosure in a family law file is financial disclosure, and the starting point for financial disclosure is Rule 13. The Rule sets out, at length, the types of financial disclosure required in claims that involve property and support. Recently, Rule 8.01 was added to the Family Law Rules, pursuant to which automatic orders, mirroring the language in Rule 13, are made at the outset of each Application. To the knowledge of this writer, there has not yet been a judicial determination of the impact of Rule 8.01 on the provisions of Rule 13 – for now, those Rules remain unchanged.
The first step if the other party to a proceeding does not provide adequate financial information is to request the necessary information. This request is made pursuant to Rule 13(11) and although the language used is similar to that used in Rule 20, the process and implications for non-compliance are not. Most significantly, there are significant pre-conditions and parameters governing the use of a Form 20 – Request for Information, as opposed to a request made pursuant to Rule 13(11). For the purposes of Rule 13(11) a simple request for documents will suffice. If a party does not provide the documents within 7 days, the requesting party may bring a motion seeking the disclosure. Such motions may be done over the counter, in writing – see Rule 13(11.1).