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During a divorce, all assets should be declared

In all cases, honesty is the best policy. However, there are some times when it may appear as if a lie of omission might actually be the better way to proceed. For example, a person going through a divorce may feel compelled to withhold some of his or her assets in order to ensure a more secure financial outlook. Is this a viable option in Ontario?

The answer is no. Divorce law is federal, and as such, nowhere in this country is it acceptable to misrepresent oneself financially during a divorce or separation. Regardless of whether a divorce is settled in court, or mediated in private, full disclosure is required.

All assets and liabilities acquired or accumulated by either spouse during the full length of the marriage are martial property. Therefore, both parties must make their individual financial situation completely transparent before property division can proceed. This applies even to assets that a spouse held secretly, like a hidden bank account, or stash of money.

In fact, obfuscating an asset may have legal ramifications. Both parties are required to complete a sworn financial statement for a divorce to proceed. If either party discovers the other falsified his or her statement, the matter could be brought before a judge. The judge is likely to rule in favour of the discovering party when issuing a settlement, and could compel the offending spouse to cover the other party's legal costs, in addition to other relief.

If faced with the reality of a divorce, it is always best to proceed with honesty and integrity. The odds of exiting the marriage with an acceptable settlement can only be improved by being forthright with everyone involved. A lawyer who practices family law in Ontario can offer guidance and assistance every step of the way.

Source:, "I'm getting divorced. Do I need to disclose my secret bank account?", Debbie Hartzman, Feb. 10, 2017

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