One of the first things that needs to be organized in any divorce is the documentation. There’s lots of documents required to be exchanged between spouses. What are those documents, and when should the gathering start?
Let’s start very simply – what do you mean by disclosure?
Disclosure is the process of providing information and documentation relating to 4 main categories
In a separation or divorce, documents are required to be exchanged between parties to ensure that each party is fully informed of the other’s financial position.
Some families generally know what exists for both parties, and others have one party very much in the dark. Either way, before resolution can occur, parties will need to exchange information and documentation to prove what exists, and that’s what’s called the “disclosure process”.
What are some examples of information and documents that would normally be exchanged?
The first layer, is what we call “standard disclosure” – these are things like:
- Income Tax Returns (T1) and Notices of Assessment
- Current income information such as recent paystubs
- Statements for things like:
- Bank accounts
- Credit cards
- Lines of credit
- Other loans
- Business documents such as financial statements
- Appraisals for tangible assets like your home or vehicles
Once we get past the standard disclosure, there may be another layer of disclosure that’s needed, and that will depend on the situation. We may need to dig deeper into certain items by getting things like:
- More detailed business ledgers and documentation from the accountants
- Business valuations
- Formal appraisals
- And other more forensic information that’s relevant to your particular situation
We always start with the standard documentation, then we go deeper if the situation warrants it. The key is to ensure that both parties are fully informed to the level that they need in order to make an informed decision.
If the court is involved, there will be certain documents that are required to be filed with the court, so that may determine the extent of your documentation.
Of course, when I ask clients for their documents, I always give them a checklist so they can keep track of everything. Otherwise, it would be near impossible to keep it all straight, and it would be very overwhelming.
When should you start gathering your documentation?
When it’s clear that separation is looming, I always recommend getting started to gather your documentation. There’s a couple reasons for this:
#1 – it can be time-consuming to gather everything, so the earlier that you get started, the less stressful it will be.
#2 – sometimes once a separation happens, one party becomes more secretive about the accounts and it can become more difficult to gather the documentation that you require.
When I work with clients in mediation, the pre-condition to that process is that both parties are willing to transparently share whatever information or documentation is required for both parties to become fully informed. So in that setting, it doesn’t matter whether documents are gathered before or after separation because parties both come to the table willing to produce whatever is requested or required.
How do people arrange to get their documents to their divorce professional?
There’s lots of ways – and that will depend on what your lawyer or mediator requests – typically it would be:
- Delivering your paper documents to my office
- Using our client portal
In our office, we have a huge focus on technology and client efficiency. Having said that, we always start by asking clients what their comfort level is with technology.
Some clients are experts at scanning or even keep their documents electronically, while others have everything in paper and couldn’t imagine trying to get it scanned in
There’s enough stressors in a separation or divorce – our goal is to make it as easy on people as possible to provide their documentation. Most of our clients love our portal once they start using it.
Given the stress of even gathering what we require, we’re just happy to receive it in whatever form it comes to us.
Henka Divorce Law & Mediation is a Collaborative Law and Family Mediation firm that helps families thrive as they transition to separation, divorce, or cohabitation. Understanding that every journey is different, we guide families through the right legal or mediation process that fits their unique situation.
Our client service is built on three pillars – focusing on the future, nurturing and supporting children, and working together towards well-being. This includes considering everyone’s needs throughout the process. We work closely with families to provide a meaningful and fair resolution, while keeping costs down by staying out of court.
We serve families in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada through their separation or divorce by providing in-person and virtual Collaborative Law or Mediation services.
With extensive knowledge in matrimonial law, our founder Stephanie Dobson uses a caring, results-focused approach to help parents navigate a family separation or divorce while they connect with and support their children. Learn more about her approach and credentials.