What is financial disclosure?

Provincial Court
Supreme Court

If you and your spouse are separating or getting divorced, you need to share your financial information with each other if:

  • you're working out child or spousal support, or
  • you're dividing your family property and debts (including pensions).

This is called financial disclosure. It means you give each other full and true information about your income, expenses, assets, and debts.

Your financial disclosure helps you and others, such as lawyers, mediators, or the court, decide:

  • who has to pay child or spousal support,
  • how much support the payor (the person who pays support) has to pay, and
  • how your family property and debts should be divided.

How do you share full financial information?

If you're working with a mediator or other dispute resolution professional, they might want you to fill out and swear or affirm a financial statement. Or, they might accept that you simply show each other all your financial documents if you and the other person agree.

If you don't fill out a financial statement, you need to share at least your income tax returns and notices of assessment and reassessment from the past three years.

The way you share your information depends on your situation. For example:

  • how much you trust each other,
  • how complex your financial situation is, and
  • how much you each know and understand about your family finances.

If you go to court, you usually have to fill out a formal financial statement and swear or affirm that it's true and accurate. This form tells the judge about your income, expenses, assets, and debts.

You have to attach supporting documents to your financial statement, including copies of your last three years' income tax returns and notices of assessment and reassessment.

To find out how to fill out a financial statement for Provincial Court, see Complete a Provincial Court Financial Statement (Form 4)

To find out how to fill out a financial statement for Supreme Court, see Complete a Supreme Court Financial Statement (Form F8)

Think about filling out a financial statement even if you don't have to. It might help you understand your financial situation better.

What financial information do we need to share?

What financial information you need to share partly depends on:

  • your family law issue, and
  • whether you're going to court or doing dispute resolution.

Whatever your situation is, you must give full, honest, and accurate information about your income, expenses, assets, and debts.

Click on the headings below to find out what financial information you might need to share for your family law issue.

When you're working out child support, you need to know both parents' true incomes so that your children get the support they're entitled to.

Usually, you need to give the most current and accurate financial information you have. Parents often use line 15000 of their most recent income tax return to work out child support based on the federal government's Child Support Tables. But if one of you is self-employed or owns a company, you might need to include your last three years' income tax or corporate returns in your financial disclosure to help give a more complete and accurate picture of your finances.

Sometimes, only one parent needs to show their income. This is the case when all the children live with only one parent and there are no special expenses.

See Child support to find out more.

If one spouse pays the other spousal support, you need to work out how much support should be paid and for how long.

To do this, you need to share financial information from during your relationship, and maybe even from before your relationship started. This is because the law sees your relationship with your spouse as an economic partnership.

If your relationship ends, the court looks at each spouse's financial circumstances before it decides on spousal support. It also looks at:

  • how long your relationship lasted,
  • the role each of you played in your relationship (for example, if one of you gave up work to stay home and look after the children), and
  • your ability to become self-sufficient and keep your standard of living.

See Spousal support to find out more.

You might find it helpful to fill out Form 4 (the Provincial (Family) Court Financial Statement with the added sections for spousal support. It will give you an idea of what information is helpful for deciding about spousal support, even if you aren't going to court.

To divide your property and debts fairly, you need information about the property and debts each of you had before and during your relationship, including excluded property, such as inheritances.

You need documents such as:

  • the most recent statements for all:
    • bank accounts, including joint accounts,
    • personal loans and vehicle loans or leases,
    • mortgages,
    • credit cards, and
    • investment portfolios, RRSPs, and pensions,
  • the most recent notice of assessment of any properties you own or have an interest in,
  • documents that show the value of investments or property that you owned before your relationship began,
  • investment statements that show the value of your RRSP before your relationship began, and
  • life insurance policies.
If you're comfortable using spreadsheets, you might find it helpful to list everything, including their values, on a spreadsheet.

You need up-to-date valuations of more expensive property, such as vehicles or your home.

If you and your spouse can work together, you might decide to value your assets or property yourselves. For example, you might work out the value of your cars by using the Black Book or AutoTrader. Or you might share the cost of hiring a property evaluator to get an independent appraisal of the value of your house.

The BC Family Law Act says that the value of your property must be based on its fair market value. This is the amount a reasonable buyer would pay for it in its current condition. The fair market value has nothing to do with how much you paid for the property, the insured value of the property, or the replacement cost of the property.

Dividing property and debt can be complicated, so it's a good idea to get legal help with this. See Property & debt for more information.

How often do you need to share full financial information?

When you're sorting out a child support or spousal support order or agreement for the first time, you and the other person need to share full financial information so that the order or agreement is fair.

If you have a child support order or agreement, you need to share full financial information:

  • every year, to make sure the order or agreement is still fair, and
  • any time your financial situation changes (for example, you get a pay raise or your wages go down).

If you have a spousal support order or agreement, read it carefully to see what it says about how often you need to share full financial information.

Most people share full financial information in June, after their notice of assessment comes in.

What if you don't share some or all of your financial information?

If you don't give full and true financial information, the court can:

  • change the arrangements you and the other person made,
  • set aside a court order or a separation agreement you made,
  • order you to pay retroactive (backdated) support,
  • order you to provide the missing information and documents,
  • fine you or order you to pay the other person's legal costs, or
  • impute income to you (by setting out what income they believe you have that's correct for calculating support).

If you forgot to share full financial information or made a mistake when you were filling out your form, tell the court as soon as possible.

If you don't share full financial information when you're asked to and the other person makes a court application, you might be asked to share full financial information within 30 days.

Filing your taxes helps you manage your finances — and you might get a refund. If you pay child support, you need your filed tax returns to make sure you're paying the right amount of support.

Updated on 24 May 2022