Not all court orders come at the end of a case, following a full trial and decision on the merits. Much earlier in the process, family law litigants come together to talk about issues in dispute and settlement options at Judicial Case Conferences (JCC), where a case management judge guides discussions.
As well as consent orders on which both parties agree, the judge handling the conference is also empowered to make procedural orders to address outstanding disclosure issues, requiring either party to deliver certain financial information by specific dates.
For example, the judge may require one party to turn over documents such as tax returns, pension information, investment account details or sworn financial statements within a period ranging anywhere from 30 to 90 days, depending on the complexity of the task or practical difficulties they could encounter.
The point of this kind of order is less about setting one party up for failure and more about keeping the matter moving forward and facilitating resolution.
I’ve previously written about the importance of full and frank financial disclosure to the property division process. Under B.C.’s Family Law Act, each spouse is entitled to half of the family property, unless the parties have an agreement stating otherwise or other exceptions exist. Depending on the situation, that might include property such as the family home, bank accounts, insurance policies, pensions, or shares in a business.
However, comprehensive proper division is impossible until all family property and excluded property are identified and valued, which is why financial disclosure can become a frequent sticking point for parties going through a separation.