Manchanda v Thethi, 2016 ONSC 3776: Financial Disclosure
Financial disclosure – when early, voluntary, and complete – is integral and provides the factual foundation for financial resolutions in family law matters. It is therefore an essential component of any proceeding. All parties are legally obligated to produce documents that accurately establish their incomes, expenses, assets, and liabilities at the valuation dates specific to the matter; for although a court can make imputations, it cannot simply make a guess. Without such disclosure, family litigation could not be conducted rationally, or settled comprehensively.
This case highlights the importance of financial disclosure, by demonstrating how court dates are wasted when disclosure is incomplete. It further emphasizes the fact that a party who fails to provide voluntary and complete disclosure further fails to participate in the process, and thereby also fails to fulfill their primary duty to help promote a just outcome. This case stands for the principal that without enforcement of this primary objective, parties can frustrate the justice system.
The proceedings in this case have had several problems. The wife maintains that the husband has continually breached multiple court orders, and has further refused to disclose relevant financial documents. When the wife sought 274 itemized disclosure items, the husband responded by not disclosing his assets or income, and then engaging in a “document dump” (where a party discloses a large number of disorganized documents so to inflict costs and confusion for the receiving party).
On this particular motion, the wife complains that the husband refuses to deposit rent received on their rental units, and further claims that he refuses to provide adequate disclosure. Although the husband pleads guilty to the first complaint, he claims that he has complied with all the disclosure orders.
Additionally, the wife brought a motion to strike out the husband’s pleadings, whilst the husband brought a motion to strike out the wife’s.
Based on an assessment of the facts, the court held that the husband had not provided “comprehensive, organized, (and) intelligible” financial disclosure; and that he blatantly ignored and breached court orders. Where the husband deliberately and knowingly failed to produce basic documents (such as his income tax returns and bank statements) and did not disclose his income, assets, liabilities, or expenses, the court found that his non-disclosure was exceptional, drastic and egregious.
The court further reasoned that the husband’s past conduct made it so no court order could really compel him to make proper disclosure; and consequently held that the only available remedy was to strike out his pleadings. The court accordingly dismissed the husband’s motions – thereby allowing the wife to proceed to an uncontested trial.
On the issue of the wife’s non-disclosure, the court held that although she failed to disclose some particulars, this did not affect or impact the equalization or support calculations. The court found that unlike the husband, the wife had in fact made sufficient disclosure (such that the fundamentally basic calculations were possible) and not evinced the intention to thwart or undermine the justice system.
In light of its findings that the husband deliberately breached court orders, the court further ordered substantial indemnity costs against him. The court additionally held that the wife shall have exclusive management rights over the former couple’s rental properties (such that the husband can no longer collect rents from the premises).