Providing financial disclosure in the course of a Family Law dispute can be overwhelming. This post is meant to be a brief guide on how and why you should complete the Form F8 Financial Statement (“F8”), and to address some common questions.

What is the F8?

The F8 requires you to be open and honest about your finances so that each party in a family law dispute, your lawyers, and the Court may know the starting point for negotiations and orders.

The F8 is a sworn document, meaning that being dishonest in completing it has the same consequences as lying under oath. Carelessness and inaccuracies in the F8 will reflect poorly on your credibility and may result in unfavorable treatment by the Courts. Many of the main issues in a family law dispute revolve around financial support and division of property, so a complete and accurate F8 is integral to resolving your dispute in an efficient, fair, and cost-effective manner.

Timelines:

The Supreme Court Family Rules require each party to exchange an F8 and supporting financial documents within 30 days of either commencing a Family Law action (for the Claimant) or from being served with a Notice of Family Claim (for the Respondent).

Structure:

The F8 is divided into six parts:

1) Part 1: Income
2) Part 2: Expenses
3) Part 3: Property
4) Part 4: Special or Extraordinary Expenses
5) Part 5: Undue Hardship
6) Part 6: Income of Other Persons in Household

Page 2 of the F8 indicates which parts to complete based upon the claims that are being made. It is important to refer to your financial documents while completing the F8. Categories like expenses and income may be difficult to ascertain, but it is important that you do not guess based on what you think your finances might be.

General Tips for Completing the F8:

Income for Those who are Self-Employed:

Arriving at your net income amount may be difficult. Some expenses, such as gas, cell phone, meals with clients, and a portion of your utilities or mortgage may be expenses that should be deducted from your gross income but not listed in Part 2 of the F8. You may wish to consult with your lawyer and accountant in completing this section.

Expenses:

Record what you actually spend. The relevant information is not what you would like to spend, or how much you used to spend before the separation. Put in your current expenses without embellishing.

If you share household expenses with another person, for instance, if you have remarried, are living with a new partner, or have a roommate, do not list the total combined amount; only record your share of the household expenses that you actually pay.

Periodic expenses should be divided to arrive at your monthly amount. If you pay some expenses annually or biannually, such as car insurance or property taxes, divide the total by 12 or 6 to come to the monthly amount.

Record expenses incurred or reasonably anticipated for the year. Some expenses, such as re-roofing or tree trimming, happen less often than once a year. If the expense arose this year, include it in the F8. If you re-roofed your home last year, then do not use that expense as an estimate of this year’s house maintenance costs, because it will not be repeated this year.

Property:

List all of the assets that you own, either solely or jointly with someone else (identify the co-owner of the property and the extent of their interest). Include assets that your spouse will not make a claim against, those that are located outside of Canada, those that you have acquired since the date of separation and those that your spouse does not know about.

You must list all of the assets that you have disposed of, including by sale or by gift, in the 2 years preceding the application. This includes assets that you owned independently of your spouse, dispositions that your spouse consented to, and assets that your spouse did not know about.

Debts should be listed in this section. A mortgage is considered a debt, and loans from friends or family should be included as well.

Changes in Circumstances:

The F8 is mostly based on information and documents from the recent past. The F8, therefore, provides a snapshot of a particular time in your financial life. If you anticipate any changes in circumstances in the near future, such as a promotion, your children moving out of your home, a change in pension income, etc., this should be listed on page 3 of the F8.

Parts 5 and 6: Undue hardship and Income of Other Persons in the Household

These sections are relevant in very particular circumstances. If you are unsure of how to complete these sections and how they apply to your situation, you may wish to consult a lawyer.

Consequences of Insufficient, Dishonest, or Lack of Disclosure:

A Court has the discretion to set a party’s income for the purposes of calculating child and spousal support if they feel that insufficient disclosure has been made. If a Court imputes a party’s income in this manner, the result could be an order for a higher amount of support than what would have been made if the party had disclosed their income.

Lack of financial disclosure at the time of the creation of a separation, co-habitation, or marriage agreement is grounds to set these agreements aside. If your agreement regarding how to divide assets is set aside, the Court has the discretion to divide the family property between the parties according to the property and support regimes in the Divorce Act (Canada) and the Family Law Act. Full and honest disclosure is, therefore, key to creating an enforceable agreement.

Finally, inaccurate disclosure can increase your legal costs by dragging out negotiations and by requiring your lawyer to continuously clarify and revise your documents.

 

When a home falls into foreclosure the property is sold to satisfy the owner’s creditors. The sale proceeds first go to the mortgagee, and then to other creditors in order of priority. Priority is generally determined based on various factors such as the type of creditor and the date of registration of the debt. In general, a judgment creditor cannot claim an interest in property beyond that held by the judgment debtor. The Court Order Enforcement Act (CEA) confirms this common law principle, and clarifies in s. 86(3)(a) that a judgment creditor’s interest is subject to any equitable interests that may have existed prior to the registration of the judgment.

In a recent decision, Chichak v Chichak, 2021 BCCA 286 the court had to determine priority between a judgment creditor with a registered judgment, and the unregistered equitable interest of a spouse.

In this case, Mr. Chichak was the sole registered owner of the property subject to a mortgage. Ms. Chichak had transferred her interest in title to him several years earlier. In 2014, Cardero Capital and First West Credit Union both obtained judgments against Mr. Chichak and registered them against the title of the property. The property was foreclosed and sold in 2016, and $312,830.83 of the sale proceeds remained after satisfying the debts owed to the highest ranking creditors. Cardero and First West applied to the courts for access to the remaining proceeds. At the same time, Ms. Chichak applied to have a 50% equitable interest in the property declared in her favour and argued that this interest should outrank the judgment creditors in priority. The chambers judge found in favour of Cardero and First West by applying the statutory presumption of indefeasibility (meaning the only valid interests in reference to the land are those that are registered against the title) and by looking at case law where transfers of title between family members had been considered gifts which extinguished the equitable interests of the giftor.

On appeal, the Court ruled that the chambers judge had mistakenly applied the principal of indefeasibility, stating that while a genuine purchaser for value would take priority over an unregistered equitable interest, a judgment creditor is not a genuine purchaser and therefore does not have the same priority. To allow the judgment creditors to take priority over the equitable interest would be to grant an interest in the property beyond what was held by the debtor, which would be contrary to the CEA. The Court allowed the appeal and sent the case back to the Supreme Court of B.C for redetermination.

Disclosure is a material issue in many family law cases. Without a clear idea of each party’s assets, a fair division of property is nearly impossible. However, there are clear limits to what the courts are willing to grant in an order for disclosure. In general, an applicant must specify which individual documents or category of documents they are requesting, link their request to a live issue in the proceedings, and justify the need for the disclosure of these documents (Mossey v. Argue, 2013 BCSC 2078).

In a recent case, Etemadi v Maali, 2021 BCSC 1003, one of the parties applied for an order to force disclosure of a hard drive. A hard drive was found to have the same legal status as a bookshelf or a filing cabinet; to grant an application for disclosure of a hard drive would amount to an authorization to search, which is not in keeping with the purpose of the disclosure rules. The court, therefore, declined to grant the order for production, stating that the interest of protecting privacy and privilege outweighed the desirability of absolute disclosure in this case.

 

Custody and access to children are complex issues requiring consideration of which circumstances would best benefit the interests of the child. Often, one or both parents may desire a change in custody or access. This can be accommodated so long as they can prove that a material change in circumstances has occurred since the last order was made.

A change can be said to be “material” if the situation presently in force would have resulted in a different order originally being made. Requests for variation are resolved entirely based on what will benefit the child, rather than what either of the parents want (Gordon v. Goertz, 1996 CanLII 191 (SCC)).

Variation is permitted under section 17 of the Divorce Act, which further stipulates that a parent’s newly developed terminal illness or critical condition qualifies as a change of circumstance. A child’s increased age and expressed wishes to spend less time with a parent can also constitute a material change ( M. (S.M.) v. H. (J.P.), 2016 BCCA 284). Intensified and more frequent conflict, if egregious enough, can also serve as a material change (Friedlander v. Claman, 2016 BCCA 434).

Section 47 of the Family Law Act also gives authority for a court to change an order of custody or access. Section 216 of the Family Law Act allows the court to address interim orders (K. (B.) v. B. (J.), 2015 BCSC 1481). Again, the parent desiring the order’s variation must prove a material change in circumstances. The change cannot be one that was contemplated and addressed in the prior order (Gordon v. Goertz, 1996 CanLII 191 (SCC)), such as a foreseen adjustment to a child’s extra-curricular soccer schedule. Material change can be shown through, for example, a parent becoming mentally ill, a child desiring to have less or more time with a parent, or a parent successfully completing counseling and improving their ability to be a guardian.

Although less frequently invoked, the court also has jurisdiction to change an interim order even if there has neither been a change in circumstances or new evidence. The court may only do so if a change would be in the best interests of the child (R. (R.) v. L. (S.), 2016 BCSC 1230. If you have concerns about your family matters, please contact Heath Law LLP to book a consultation.

Through the Notice to Mediate (Family) Regulation, BC Reg 296/2007, a party to a family law proceeding may require the other spouse to participate in mediation with them. Mediation, if successful, can have many benefits including a shorter timeline, decreased cost, and lower conflict. It’s also much less formal than court, and private.

A notice to mediate can be served on the other party at any point that is 90 days’ time after the first response to the family claim is filed, and 90 days’ time before the date of the trial. The parties must agree on which mediator to select, and if they cannot, any party may apply to a roster organization that maintains a list of experienced mediators who would be sufficient. The roster organization will provide a list of options, and the Regulation then requires parties to eliminate certain mediators to which they object. The roster organization will make the final call on who the mediator will be, taking into account the parties’ indicated preferences, the mediator’s qualifications and fee, and scheduling availability.

The mediator is required to hold separate pre-mediation appointments with each party, where they’ll screen for potential power imbalance or abuse. If this appointment leads the mediator to believe that the process would be inappropriate or unproductive, they can conclude the mediation at that point and the parties will need to go through with litigation. Parties are not obligated to settle all or any of their issues at mediation but must attend and participate in good faith. Mediation requires parties to be reasonable, relatively calm, and open to negotiation. Considering how emotionally charged separation is for many individuals, mediation certainly isn’t the answer for everyone, but it may be worth an attempt.

 

Both the Divorce Act and the Family Law Act give authority to change the amount of spousal support that must be paid, and although worded differently, both acts require a change in circumstances before the variation is warranted. It’s important to bring the variation application under the Act which the support order was originally made under; the Family Law Act cannot be invoked to change a support order made under the Divorce Act (Malbon v. Malbon, 2017 BCCA 427), and vice versa.

The factors for the court to consider when asked to change spousal support are set out in section 17 (4.1) of the Divorce Act and Section 167 of the Family Law Act. In case law, a substantial change of circumstances has been constituted by multiple scenarios including:

• A change in income;
• A change in expenses;
• Retirement;
• Re-partnering; and
• A change of residence for the child.

If parties presume the payor’s income will somewhat fluctuate, but instead it increases significantly, the situation will likely meet the requirement of a substantial change in circumstances (Jennens v. Jennens, 2020 BCCA 59). Purposeful, voluntary changes made to one’s life, such as taking a larger mortgage for a shorter amortization, will not lead to a change of support (Poon v. Poon, 2005 BCCA 60).

A foundational principle of the spousal support obligation is that payor’s must compensate their spouses when that spouse’s contributions to the family allowed the payor to obtain the high income they later benefit from (Judd v. Judd, 2010 BCSC 153).

Voluntary retirement is typically more carefully analyzed by the courts than forced retirement. When considering if retirement justifies changing support obligations, the courts will look at age, background, employment opportunities, and the objectives of the support order (Brouwer v. Brouwer, 2019 BCSC 274). In Cramer v. Cramer, 2000 BCCA 272, the payor was forced to retire due to a health condition, the estate had been split equally originally, and the payee spouse had failed to follow through with educational plans that would have led to financial self-sufficiency. The payor’s retirement constituted a change in circumstances and the spousal support was terminated entirely.

Remarriage or re-partnering alone is not sufficient to trigger a material change in circumstances (Morigeau v. Moorey, 2013 BCSC 1923). But when combined with other factors such as an increase in the payee’s workplace earnings, the requirement can be met (Clarke v. Clarke, 2014 BCSC 824). A change in the children’s residence, meaning an increase in expenses for the parent who is primarily caring for them, can constitute a change in circumstances sufficient to vary spousal support (Aspe v. Aspe, 2010 BCCA 508). . If you’d like assistance with resolving any family matters, please contact Heath Law LLP to book a consultation.

When relationships dissolve, parties often become concerned that their property will be disposed of or encumbered against their wishes. Property division will be addressed and ultimately resolved as separations move forward, but until agreements are finalized, it may be beneficial for spouses to take certain interim measures. The three types of entries often registered against the title of a property with the Land Title Office are:

• A certificate of pending litigation;
• A Land (Spouse Protection) Act entry; and
• A caveat.

While a certificate of pending litigation (“CPL”) does not create rights to the property which the party did not have before, it does provide notice to would-be creditors or buyers that an interest in the property is being claimed. This dissuades the vast majority of creditors or buyers, with the affect that the property is protected from disposition or encumbrance. The CPL is registered against the title of the property and can be filed against property owned by either or both spouses. A CPL may only be registered once the family law proceedings have begun.

If the property is held in the sole name of one spouse, the other spouse may make a Land (Spouse Protection) Act entry against it. Entries may not be made if the property is held in joint tenancy. The entry will prevent the property from being disposed of without consent. Entries can be made before court action has been commenced but must be made within one year of the spouses residing together in the home. The Land (Spouse Protection) Act has specific forms for the entry application and affidavit. Spouses must have been married or have been in a marriage-like relationship of at least two years.

Finally, if it’s not possible to apply for a CPL or Land (Spouse Protection) Act entry, a caveat may be used. A caveat is a temporary measure registered against the title of property owned by the other spouse. Caveats must be applied for through the correct form offered by the Land Title and Survey Authority, and lapse two months after their registration.
Not anyone can apply for the entries listed above; only people who are spouses or parties to the family law case may apply. If you have concerns about your property or family matters, please contact Heath Law LLP to book a consultation.

Religious-based contracts, such as a Maher, can create increased complexity for the family justice system. A Maher is a contract which some Muslim couples will enter into upon marriage. The Maher can have the effect of requiring the husband pay the wife a specified amount of money if divorce occurs. The value can often be extravagant, such as hundreds of gold coins.

In Kariminia v. Nasser, 2018 BCSC 695, the court ordered that an Islamic marriage contract should be upheld such that the husband was required to pay the wife the value of 114 Bahar Azadi gold coins, equivalent to $49,020 CAD, upon the breakdown of their marriage. The court held that, as per Bruker v. Marcovitz, [2007] S.C.J. No. 54, a dispute can be addressed in the judicial atmosphere even if it has a religious aspect.

Further, people can freely choose to transfer moral obligations related to their religious orders into legal obligations. In upholding the Maher, the court further noted that Canadian law acknowledges cultural diversity (Nathoo v. Nathoo, [1996] B.C.J. No. 2720 (B.C. S.C.)). Ultimately, the Maher in Kariminia was an amount which the husband could realistically pay, the document was signed by both parties, and could be upheld as a valid marriage contract.

On multiple other occasions, the courts have also interpreted contracts for Maher by considering if they’re enforceable “marriage agreements” under family law legislation. In M. (N.M.) v. M. (N.S.), 2004 BCSC 346, the court held that the husband was aware of and understood the amount stipulated in the Maher. He recognized that the Maher was a legally binding document, and wished to marry in compliance with it and the Ismaili faith. The wife in M. (N.M.) was entitled to $51,250. In Amlani v. Hirani, 2000 BCSC 1653, a Maher was again upheld as a valid marriage contract under the Family Relations Act. As a note, the current Family Law Act would apply to marriage contracts entered into after March 2013.

Both the current Family Law Act and the prior Family Relations Act give the courts power to set aside agreements regarding property division on the basis of unfairness. And in Delvarani v. Delvarani, 2012 BCSC 162, the court did just that. The Maher was for the amount of 3000 Bahar Azadi gold coins, which equated to $750,000 CAD. The court held that the husband likely didn’t agree to this payout, especially on top of the financial obligations he’d already have to abide by under BC law. There was no connection between this exorbitant amount of money and the short duration of the marriage, the needs of the wife, nor the husband’s ability to pay.

 

In certain circumstances, a party required to pay child support may need to claim undue hardship under section 10 of the Federal Child Support Guidelines (the “Guidelines”).This means that the party would be caused to suffer unduly if made to pay the full amount of support originally required. If the party shows the court why they’re unable to pay the amount of support determined under the Guidelines, the court may reduce the value they’re obligated to pay.

Circumstances that may cause a party to suffer undue hardship include:
• The spouse has responsibility for an unusually high level of debt reasonably incurred to support the spouses and their children prior to the separation or to earn a living;
• The spouse has unusually high expenses in relation to exercising parenting time with a child; or
• The spouse has a legal duty to support any person who is unable to obtain the necessities of life due to an illness or disability.

The party claiming undue hardship must also prove that they have a lower standard of living than their ex-spouse. It’s typically very difficult to prove undue hardship because it’s viewed as unfair for one spouse to pay less than the Guideline requirement of support.

In Kelly v. Kelly, 2011 BCCA 173, the judge made it clear that future courts must very carefully exercise their discretion to order a different amount of support (para. 35). The objectives of the Guidelines should not be circumvented; predictability and consistency in support obligations are key components of our family justice system.

If you have any questions, please call Heath Law LLP to book a consultation.

If a party to a separation has concerns that their ex-spouse might dispose of family property, or deal with it in a way which adversely affects their interests, a section 91 order may help. The Family Law Act requires that, on application by a spouse, the Supreme Court make an order restraining the other spouse from disposing of any property at issue. These orders are often made mutually, such that both spouses are restrained from deposing of property, pending a resolution of the matters.

This type of order is a form of interim relief, and can only be applied for by a party who has standing under the FLA. To have standing, the party must be married, divorced, separated, or have lived with their ex in a marriage-like relationship of over two years.

Situations in which it may be beneficial to apply for a section 91 order include:
• A spouse refuses to communicate regarding assets;
• A spouse is likely to declare bankruptcy;
• A spouse making attempts to transfer or sell assets; or
• A spouse using substantial amounts of a line of credit.

Finally, applications for section 91 orders can be made prior to having to attend a Judicial Case Conference, which is very beneficial considering the lengthy wait times to be able to attend a JCC.
For more information regarding family law and property matters, please call Heath Law LLP to book a consultation.