Can Outside Parties Be Ordered to Provide Information?
As I have written in previous articles, in Ontario the parties to divorce litigation have an obligation to provide financial disclosure to each other, as part of the orderly division and winding up of their joint financial affairs.
It is perhaps less well-known that these disclosure obligations can impact third parties as well – meaning people other than the two divorcing spouses themselves. This can include a relative, a business partner, or a corporate entity that is not directly involved in the Family Law dispute, but who may nonetheless possess information that is pertinent to its resolution. These third parties can be compelled by a court to produce documents, or to attend to give evidence (or, in the case of a corporation, to have a representative attend). For example, one spouse may receive income from outside sources such as a family trust; the other spouse may have to get an Order from a court compelling disclosure of information about how much income is paid from that trust each year.
The spouse who wants disclosure from a third party must show a court that:
1) the information is necessary,
2) the information is relevant, and
3) it would be unfair to him or her if the information is not produced.
In deciding whether to grant the Order a court will consider:
1) the importance of the documents to the Family Law dispute,
2) whether producing them prior to trial will avoid unfairness,
3) whether there are other sources available for the information, and
4) how the third parties are related to the litigation.
Each case will be decided in accordance with its unique facts.
Shulman Law Firm is a Toronto-area firm of experienced Family Lawyers who can provide practical advice and effective representation relating to the steps and processes involved in separating and getting divorced in Ontario. Contact us to set up a free consultation.