Besides being emotional benchmarks in people’s lives, divorces are often cause to evaluate and come to terms with finances. Because of this, our Vancouver divorce lawyers suggest that when contemplating divorce or separation, people should collect together and keep safe documents and things that could make the process faster, easier and less confrontational. Gathering together this documentation will make the process simpler.
1. Financial Account Statements
Account statements not only show what you and your spouse have saved, they are the financial story of your life. They show how you and your spouse dealt with your money – what each of you were responsible for, how much each of you earned and how that money was used. They show activities that your family were involved in, places that you went and sometimes things that one spouse did without the other spouse’s knowledge. If you are planning on separating, our divorce lawyers recommend that you collect copies of account statements for all the financial accounts that your family has used, for as far back as is reasonable. This is often three to five years, but can be less or more depending on the circumstances of the relationship.
2. Property documents
Property is often the biggest asset that people have, and arguments regarding who paid for that property and what the value of the property was at the time of its purchase can be resolved by keeping copies of the documentation from the property purchase or sale. If you are dealing with one of our Vancouver divorce lawyers, he or she will likely ask you to obtain a copy of the Form A Transfer which is the actual transfer document filed with the Land Title Office, and the Purchaser’s and Vendor’s Statements of Adjustment which show where the money to buy the property came from and how it was distributed. The financial account statements showing the payment of the funds used to buy the property or the deposit of the sale proceeds will be important.
3. Marriage Documents
One of the requirements you must fulfill before getting a divorce is proof that you were married to begin with. Normally, this takes the form of a Certificate of Marriage or Registration of Marriage. If you were married in Canada, ordering a replacement for a lost Certificate is not difficult. Depending on the jurisdiction you were married in, however, obtaining replacements for lost foreign marriage certificates can be less straightforward.
4. Corporate Records
Businesses owned and run by spouses are important both as potentially valuable assets and as the engines for spouses’ incomes. Corporate documents can reveal assets owned by the company, how much income the company generates, what the company spends the income on and how the company characterizes that income. Canadian companies can be provincially registered or federally registered. Because of this, you should ask your divorce lawyer what documents will be relevant to your circumstances. They will likely include the company’s financial statements for the years preceding the separation or divorce, the company’s financial account statements and the company’s general ledger statements for the relevant period.
5. Agreements, Contracts and Court Orders
Separation and divorce sometimes happen after other legal matters have transpired between spouses. If you have ever entered into an agreement with your spouse, be it before you were married or afterwards, be it regarding property or maintenance or be it regarding a loan of money or the repayment of borrowed monies, it is important that you provide a copy of those documents to your divorce lawyer. Similarly, if you have been to court and there are existing court orders and supporting materials (affidavits, application documents, originating court documents) it is vital that your family lawyer receive copies. These documents might reflect your current circumstances, or might be severely unfair given changes in circumstance or the passage of time. Regardless, your family lawyer needs to see them.
Next week we will complete the list in Ten Documents You Should Keep Close If You’re Getting A Divorce, Part II