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Producing financial disclosure in family law: A poem | David Frenkel

Thursday, October 03, 2019 @ 3:29 PM | By David Frenkel


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David Frenkel %>
David Frenkel
When it comes to financial disclosure, some family law litigants just don’t seem to appreciate the importance of full and frank disclosure. There are many reported decisions in Canada on the topic — some more referenced than others. However, a few recent decisions are considered leading in the area and are often quoted. These decisions include Roberts v. Roberts 2015 ONCA 450, Manchanda v. Thethi 2016 ONCA 909 and Cunningham v. Seveny 2017 ABCA 4.

Nevertheless, some people may just need a more simple way to understand that their inactions do more harm than good. So one day, this poem began as “a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong …” (Robert Frost).

Mind you, I am a family law lawyer and very far from a poet; but, if I can just persuade one person to produce their financial disclosure and minimize unnecessary litigation, the following poor attempt at rhyming may just be worth it.
 
The Poem

What evil lurks behind the veil?
Which skeletons await?
Why don’t you show your bank accounts?
Why are you always late?

Can you walk me through your business structure
to see how it is built?
Or are you playing hide and seek
without a shame or guilt?

Is it fair that your delays and tactics
cause financial pain?
Your former spouse will look at you
with even more disdain.

The partner that you once had loved
has gone through quite enough.
Why do you choose to cause such grief?
Why do you play so rough?

The disclosure that you now withhold,
is something that we need,
Roberts v. Roberts
is a case you’ll want to read.

It speaks of basic obligations
and the duty to disclose.
Can you now ignore the court
with your upheld nose?

The expectation of disclosure
is not the “exception.”
Should you not just heed that call
along with full reception?

Disclosure is so “automatic,”
no judge should be required.
Some people just don’t get it then;
I guess that’s how they’re wired.

As Epstein says in his Newsletter,
we need to move ahead
To end the game of hide and seek
and show the goods instead.

What about Manchanda
and the non-disclosure there?
The husband chose to not comply
without a blink or care.

“Those who choose not to disclose”
will do so at their risk,
Of losing their own standing
with their claims they’ll sorely miss.

In Cunningham the payor dad
was borderline obtuse,
His “lack of full disclosure”
was considered an abuse.

The backlog and the interference
was mentioned by the court,
“Children do not benefit”
when costs exceed support.

We’ve heard before your empty claims
that simply are not true,
The benefits you think you’ll gain
will end up hurting you.

The costs you’ll bear in showing truth,
are likely not that bad,
The alternative of endless court
is ultimately sad.

Gird your loins and toughen up,
disclose and do not hide,
Do it with a confidence
and do it with a pride.

The bigger picture is the one
without the legal strife.
It’s better to avoid the motions
so you can live your life.
 
The gains of speaking truth you’ll see
outweigh the risks you dread.
You’ll realize the fears you had
were only in your head.

David Frenkel is a lawyer at Gelman & Associates who has practised exclusively in family law for the last 10 years. He can be reached at dfrenkel@gelmanlaw.ca.

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