Article written by Axis Geffen
One of the most entertaining aspects of investigating family court matters has to be when someone brings me a financial disclosure from the other side. I’m not going to lie… more often than not, when a disclosure makes it to me, one spouse has already put the other into a financially compromising spot. They think that they are going to get away with the bulk of the family assets. Depending on the jurisdiction, this can be even more challenging. Due to rules for access to information, nuances in permissible information and time available to complete the investigation.
With all of that said, it’s amazing to see what people will put in their disclosures and what they don’t. When you’re asked to generate a financial disclosure, some people get lazy, some people are diligent, and some people flat out lie. This amazes me because lying in your financial disclosure is you basically saying:
“I know that someone could decide to verify what I’ve put in writing but I think I can fool the judge, and I’m pretty sure my partner is too dumb to figure this out.”
While many people never challenge the disclosure provided by the other side, those that do have often found a lot of things were “overlooked” or omitted intentionally. Some of my favourites follow.
“Your honour, as you can see in my disclosure I only own one (1) 2002 Chevrolet with a book value of $452.00… What’s that? Oh, well, uh? Yes, I guess I do also own four (4) more cars that were purchased just before and after issuing the disclosure… And yes, I do also own three (3) trailers, one (1) boat, and two (2) snowmobiles. I’m sorry. I didn’t know you could see that.” Sound far-fetched? It’s not. You would be surprised how many people think that their vehicles are invisible at disclosure time. Hint: Judges don’t like liars. You’re best to come clean before submitting your disclosure.
My Business Is None Of Yours
If I had $10 for every time we found that the person disclosing has one (1) or more undisclosed businesses… I could take a lot of people to lunch! Depending on where the business is located and how it’s registered, it can be hard to locate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be found out. One of my favourite situations was a spouse that disclosed that he had an option to convert his shares in a business into an ownership share but then claimed that it fell through and he even provided a copy of the current corporate paperwork proving that he was not listed as a Director.
During the review process, something just didn’t add up. So, we ran every filing associated with the company since it was incorporated. In doing so, we uncovered that he was one of the company founders but had never told his wife. In addition, he had transferred his name on and off of documents for the last six (6) years – coincidentally, every time the matter went back into court or mediation. This also uncovered additional numbered companies that he was associated with. What can I say? Some people do dumb things.
I Have Limited Finances – See?
I will say that many people are fairly honest about what is in the bank. Usually, that makes sense because we can contact the bank to confirm. However, what we do run into fairly often is the spouse that tells us about bank A… But doesn’t mention bank B, C, and D, which show up in other documents.
I Haven’t Worked In Two (2) Years!
Let’s see…the EI documents confirm they’re not working, where do they live? In a $3 Million dollar house with a $75,000/mth mortgage. Hmmm? Something doesn’t add up here. I know, I know, you read this and you say “that’s not real” but yes, it was. I assure you the judge enjoyed reading our report as much as we enjoyed the multiple “oh no you didn’t?” moments we had while researching it.
Another popular scenario is for the spouse to claim they aren’t working but then start to work (or continue to work) under the table (for cash) through their own company or a friend. The funny thing is that the logic is very simple. If you exist and have bills, then you pay them somehow. If you make money, there is almost always a way to figure out how, where and prove it. (The great part of the last sentence is that some of the readers of this article stopped at the word almost and smiled.)
It’s Like You’re Talking Another Language.
Finally, yourfinancial disclosure is ALL INCLUSIVE. Don’t forget or pretend to forget to mention your foreign interests. A lot of people never realize that in foreign jurisdictions, a lot more information is legally obtainable and carried forward into our Canadian matter. Always note ALL major assets (vehicles (personal or commercial or recreational), properties (everywhere), money (everywhere and every currency), safety deposit boxes, bank accounts, debts… everything financial should be noted.
Needless to say, the Judge’s job becomes a lot easier when reviewing a financial disclosure side-by-side with a qualified investigator’s report that highlights the inconsistencies in reporting. After all, once one of the parties in a matter chooses to lie to the Judge in writing, it paints them as deceitful across the board. It is very hard to come back from that unless both sides choose to lie to the Judge. Thanks for reading. Please share.