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MacLean Law’s Undisclosed Family Property Assets Lawyers know that when spouses lie about the value or worse hide family property the family law system is compromised and justice is denied. Our top rated Undisclosed Family Property Assets Lawyers know Courts are now very tough on lying spouses who fail to disclose family property or income sources.

“My spouse will not follow court orders to disclose assets, what can I do?”  Jonathan Wai, senior associate at MacLean Law’s Undisclosed Family Property Assets Lawyers explains the available remedies at law in these circumstances.  Jonathan Wai can be reached at our downtown Vancouver office at 604-602-9000.  MacLean Law has 5 offices across BC located in Surrey, Vancouver, RichmondKelowna and Fort St John as well as a Calgary Family lawyers office. MacLean family law is a repeat winner of Vancouver ‘s Top family law firm.

Family law cases require that the both parties disclose all assets in their respective names, so that the court may assess what assets are family assets, what are excluded assets, and what an appropriate division is. 

If a party does not disclose assets the court may order that party to do so, and impose consequences for failing to follow the court order, which may include fines of no more than $5,000 against the party and a finding of contempt in more serious cases.

When a party still does not disclose assets even in the face of a court order, the court is in a difficult position. 

Call our undisclosed family property assets lawyers today toll free across BC and in Calgary 1-877-602-9900. Meet with us on an urgent basis.

How Can The Court Divide Undisclosed Assets?

The court in the recent BC Supreme Court case of Saric v. Banden 2017 BCSC 1508 considered this problem. 

[49] Mr. Banden has failed to participate in these proceedings as required in order to advance his interests and allow the court to adjudicate the issues properly. In formal terms he is not a party at all, as I have stated. In general terms he merely responded to Ms. Saric’s interlocutory applications by filing affidavits and appearing in court to oppose them. Mr. Banden also failed to provide documentary disclosure as required by the court orders, particularly that of Bruce J. As a result of that failure the efforts of Ms. Orton and the $25,000 spent for a forensic accounting investigation were largely wasted, other than providing support for conclusions as to Mr. Banden’s lack of cooperation that would have been made at trial in any event.

[50] I accept the conclusions of Ms. Orton as summarized previously. In particular, I accept that Mr. Banden did not provide the disclosure he was required to provide, and that his income tax returns are unreliable. I conclude that his sworn F8 financial statements are inaccurate and unreliable.

[51] I conclude that Mr. Banden has consistently failed to abide by court orders requiring disclosure of documents and assets.

[52] The legal principles applicable in such circumstances were summarized by Fleming J. in Chang v. Xia, 2015 BCSC 1994 at paras. 47-50:

47 Where a spouse fails to disclose financial assets and dissipates family assets after separation, the court may impute assets to the spouse and/or reapportion family assets or debt pursuant to s. 95(2) of the FLA if the court finds it would be significantly unfair to order an equal division, or the common law.

48 In Cunha v. Cunha (1994), 99 B.C.L.R. (2d) 93 (S.C.), the court referred to the non-disclosure of assets in family cases as the cancer of matrimonial property litigation. The court determined it was not sufficient to respond to such conduct with an award of costs or by dealing only with the known assets. Instead, the court divided the parties’ family assets on the basis that the husband’s undisclosed assets had an imputed equal value to the disclosed assets. The court then vested all the known assets in the name of the wife.

49 In Laxton v. Coglon, 2008 BCSC 42, the court clarified that where the non-disclosing party has not satisfied the court that full disclosure has been made, the court may infer the value of the undisclosed assets is at least equal to the value of the disclosed assets. The inference operates to ensure equal division between the parties. The court in Laxton also observed that the principle in Cunha applies only where there is a strong evidentiary basis for the proposition that one of the parties to the litigation has hidden assets.

50 More recently, in Wu v. Sun, 2011 BCCA 239, the Court of Appeal made a similar point. It affirmed that strong measures are justified in discouraging non-disclosure, but cautioned that there must be some evidence of the value of the undisclosed assets before the inference is appropriate, although that evidence may be sparse.

In case of Undisclosed Assets, the court, therefore, can pick a value for the asset on sparse evidence, and can infer that he value of the Undisclosed Assets is at least equal to the value of the disclosed asset.  In other words, if the disclosed assets are worth $500,000, the court may infer that the Undisclosed Assets are themselves worth $500,000 or more, so that the total assets would be $1,000,000.

In this case, even though the court had only “sparse” evidence of the Undisclosed Assets, the court was able to infer a value for them:

[55] As noted, Ms. Saric submits that the value of the undisclosed assets held by Mr. Banden should be assessed at approximately $380,000. In my view this amount is not realistic. A more realistic assessment is $100,000. This is based very roughly upon Ms. Saric’s evidence as to the property and assets in Croatia, but takes into account the likelihood that the business does not subsist and therefore liquidation values are more appropriate. In addition, I assess the value of the vehicles and household possessions held by Mr. Banden at $50,000. This is comprised of $20,000 for household furnishings and contents as well as shop equipment, and $30,000 for the vehicles.

What Else Can The Court Do About Undisclosed Assets?

As well, the court ordered unequal division of the known assets in favor Ms. Saric, because of the Undisclosed Assets:

[58] I would allocate the remainder of the funds in court to Ms. Saric as an unequal division of family property under s. 95(1) of the FLA. Pursuant to s. 95(2)(i), Mr. Banden’s undisclosed assets are an “other factor” that would lead to significant unfairness if the known proceeds of the sale of the home were to be divided equally…

The court would also have imposed costs against Mr. Bandon, had he been a party, because of the Undisclosed Assets (with liberty to counsel to ask for costs against a non-party):

[56] In the result, based upon an equal division of the property, Ms. Saric is entitled to receive the remainder of the $70,456 held in court. She has previously received $159,567. She received the 2007 Mercedes Benz valued at $7,600. Mr. Banden has received or applied to his share a total of $89,111, including the $25,000 used to pay for the Orton report. (Under the terms of the Bruce J. order that sum is payable out of Mr. Banden’s share of the funds in court. I observe that the expense was made necessary by his conduct. In addition, if Mr. Banden were a party, he would be liable to pay this as costs in the circumstances of this case, including the result of the trial.) In addition, Mr. Banden has received the household furnishings and contents, the other vehicles, and the undisclosed assets. He will retain Euro.

Hire Our Top Undisclosed Family Property Assets Lawyers Early On  To Help Ensure A Just Result 1-877-602-9900

If your spouse behaves like this during your family law case, it is worse than a driving a hard-bargain, it is deliberately withholding key information to get an unfair bargain.  Our experienced and aggressive Undisclosed Family Property Assets Lawyers know Faced with this, it may seem difficult or impossible to get that information, and thus your spouse has created an unequal playing field, creating unnecessary financial and emotional stress in what is usually an already stressful situation.

Fortunately, you have remedies available at law.   If you feel your spouse is or may be withholding information about assets, the Undisclosed Family Property Assets Lawyers at the Vancouver Office of MacLean Law are here to help you get Remedies for Undisclosed Assets, so that you recover your fair share. Call us now at 1-877-602-9900.