BC courts require that you complete a sworn Financial Statement. Family Lawyer and Mediator, Michael Butterfield says, “These statements are important tools, and are often what the court will depend on to make decisions regarding property division, as well as child and spousal support. If you are attending mediation or Collaborative Law it is equally important to know your and your partner’s financial situation. These facts are essential to reaching a reasonable settlement.”
A Financial Statement lists your assets and debts, as well as your ongoing expenses. Getting your financial information in order is an easy way to save yourself money and time, when you are going through a divorce. This is also a starting place for you creating a new budget for your monthly expenses.
When you meet with a lawyer it is essential that you bring the following financial information:
1. Your last 3 years of personal tax returns, tax reassessments, and T1s.
2. Your last 3, most recent, pay stubs from your employment.
3. Any EI statements, if applicable.
4. Information from any other income streams: e.g. WCB payments, rental property income, investment income.
If you own any property/assets, you will also need to bring:
5. Your most recent (home) Property Assessment Notice.
6. Year and Make of any vehicles, and their approximate values.
7. Pensions and RRSP statements.
8. Bank Accounts, term deposits, GICs, Stocks, bonds, mutual fund balances etc.
9. Assessments/appraisals of any property of outstanding value (such as art).
Remember that when it comes to dividing your household, you and your spouse will be dividing not only assets, but also debts. Therefore, the following information is also needed:
9. Most recent mortgage statement for your home.
10. Credit card statements, and any information relating to personal loans.
If you are considering leaving the family home, make sure to gather and make copies of any documents located there. It is often difficult to retrieve these documents once the couple has split up, and this can create considerable delay and frustration.
It is also important to look at your transitional housing expenses. While some couples live in the same home, “separate and apart”– for example by one party living in a basement suite in the home– most separating couples find this arrangement too taxing. This requires one person to leave the home and set up an apartment, while the house is put up for sale, or a buyout can be arranged. To keep up temporary payments for two homes (rented and owned) you may need to borrow money from family, take out a loan of credit, or utilize your credit card, while financial separation is arranged.
There is a lot to consider in a separation or divorce. Staying organized and planning in advance can go a long way to easing stress at this challenging time.
Jayne Embree holds a Masters in Psychology and is a highly experienced Divorce Coach and Child Specialist. She is currently working with the Administrative Department of Butterfield Law.