Is My Spouse Entitled to My Corporate Tax Returns In Separation or Divorce?

corporate tax returns, which must be disclosed in family court

Owning your own corporation has lots of advantages - but none of them are in Family Court, where owning your own corporation makes things much more difficult.  For more information about that generally, see this page

The information about your corporation is important in separation and divorce for two reasons:

1.  Your shares in your corporation are an asset, which almost always fall into the property calculations for the "equalization of Net Family Property" in separation.  For more on how property is divided in a divorce, listen to this podcast.

2.   Your income for support purposes (child support and spousal support) is based on how much you can get in your pocket, not what your tax returns says.  Corporations offer a lot of ways to lower your income for tax purposes, but not for support purposes.  For more on that, listen to this podcast.

Section 21 and Section 25 of the Child Support Guidelines list the types of documents, information and other disclosure that is needed to calculate a person’s income for the purposes of determining support. (Determining how much income a corporation makes is usually important for determining the corporations value for property division purposes too.)   However, more information, documents and disclosure may be needed that just what is listed in those two sections.  Other documents and information may be needed to understand or verify what is in the disclosure listed in section 21 and 25 of the Child Support Guidelines (or to properly value the company.)

While it is unlikely that your wife will need your corporate tax returns for tax purposes, unless she is a shareholder in the corporation, she is entitled to a lot of information in relation to your corporation to resolve the issues arising from your separation and divorce.  While your corporation may be a separate legal entity and separate from you for other areas of law, in Family Court (and other family law processes), the income and assets belonging to a corporation that you control are considered to be yours (and not the separate property of the corporation). 

Guide to the Basic of Ontario Family Law (Book)

To understand where you stand with regard to all the legal issues that arise from your separation, you should consult a good family lawyer who can give you advice particular to your situation. To speak to Certified Specialist in Family Law, Toronto Divorce Lawyer, John Schuman, call the number at the top of this page, or use the form below.  Until you can meet with a lawyer, you might want to watch this video to avoid some common mistakes that separated people make.  You will also want to pick up a copy of this $20-easy-to-understand book on Ontario Family Law because it explains most family law issues, including support, property division and the challenges of being self-employed, your options for resolving matters with your spouse, and some tips to stay out of trouble.

Guide to the Basics of Ontario Family Law Available on KindleiBookstore_140x70Kobo Logo


Linda Hammerschmid

This issue is neither social nor psychological. Depending on the law in one's district it is Family/corporate law. 

Here in Quebec inside a divorce file normally we get both the personal and corporate tax returns.

Mark Finn - Senior lawyer at McKean Park

This issue forms part of the Rule in Australia to make full and frank Disclosure,and is part of the Discovery and Inspection Process. 

Clearly the answer is your spouse can look at returns as indeed you can look at hers along with her other financial documentation

© John P. Schuman 2014