Non-disclosure of financial info impedes timely resolution of family disputes: BC Supreme Court

The mother in case failed to provide her tax returns despite a court order

Non-disclosure of financial info impedes timely resolution of family disputes: BC Supreme Court

In a recent family law case, the BC Supreme Court has emphasized the importance of financial disclosure between two former spouses.

In J.M.F. v J.S.F, 2024 BCSC 882 (CanLII), the court finalized the parties' divorce, addressing major outstanding issues involving changes to support obligations and appropriate remedies for failure to provide financial disclosure. Both parties filed cross-applications concerning support issues.

The father sought to terminate his spousal support obligations from October 1, 2022, reduce his child support obligations, and hold the mother in contempt for failing to comply with a prior court order for financial disclosure. Alternatively, he requested an order for her to provide the necessary financial information. The mother sought to impute higher income to the father and requested increased child support.

The court ruled in favour of the father, terminating his spousal support obligation as of October 1, 2022, and reducing his child support payments. The judge dismissed the father's contempt application but granted his request for an order for the mother to provide financial disclosure. The court rejected the mother's request to impute higher income to the father and her bid for increased child support.

The couple married in 2006, separated in 2014, and has two children. One of them requires special care due to multiple disorders. The father, 56, had worked for the Ministry of Forests for 32 years before his employment was terminated without cause. He now receives a pension and lives on the family ranch with his mother, who suffered a stroke in 2023. He is not paid for his work on the ranch and has severe osteoarthritis, limiting his employment capabilities.

The mother, 55, also an agrologist, previously worked full-time and is now employed. She was involved in a car accident in 2017 but is now fully employed.

During the hearing, the father claimed that the mother failed to comply with the financial disclosure terms of the 2018 order. The order required both parties to exchange their income tax returns and any notices of assessment or reassessment annually and inform each other of any material change in circumstances.

The Supreme Court found that the mother had not provided her tax returns and other required financial documents. The judge emphasized that non-disclosure or delayed disclosure of financial information impedes the timely and just resolution of family disputes. Consequently, the court ordered the mother to comply with her financial disclosure obligations.

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