PART 2: “HOW TO” INSTRUCTIONS - Organize

DOCUMENT SMARTLIST

Thistoo has designed the Organize section to help you organize your documents and prepare to apply for divorce.  While our forms are short and comprehensive to make sure you're entering the right information, this blog post explains in depth how to complete all of the forms in Thistoo’s Organize section.

Thistoo "How to" Instructions" 2. Organize

Assets

Pension plan documentation: 

The majority of individuals are able to get a pension split when divorcing; however, if any of the following applies to you, you may be exempt from a pension split according to the Government of Canada

  • when the total Pensionable Earnings of the spouses, former spouses or former common-law partners, in a year, was not more than twice the Year’s Basic Exemption;
  • for the period before one of the spouses, former spouses, or former common-law partners reached age 18 or after a spouse, former spouse or former common-law partner reached age 70;
  • for the period when one of the spouses, former spouses, or former common-law partners was a beneficiary of a retirement pension under the CPP;
  • for the period when one of the spouses, former spouses, or former common-law partners was considered to be disabled for the purpose of the CPP or QPP Disability benefit.

There are two documents to recognize in this category. The first is the Canadian Pension Plan Credit Split Application Kit, which is essential to ensure that the pension plan credits that have been accumulated by your former spouse or common-law partner are split equally. This can be found under the PDF section of the linked page, along with an information guide. 

The second document to prepare is your Statement of Contributions. You can print out this document from your online Service Canada account. While the majority of Canadian citizens can apply for it, there are a few exceptions by the Government of Canada. You are not qualified to apply for a Statement of Contributions on Service Canada if:

  • have only worked in Quebec;
  • worked in Quebec and at least one other province and currently reside in Quebec: or
  • worked in Quebec and at least one other province, you currently reside outside of Canada and your last province of residence in Canada was Quebec.

You can also request your statement by mail at: 

Contributor Client Services
Canada Pension Plan
Service Canada
PO Box 818 Station Main
Winnipeg MB R3C 2N4

Be sure to look over both of these documents. If any information is incorrect, be sure to contact Service Canada to have it changed. Your Canadian Pension Plan benefits can change based on your contributions and earnings. For more information, consult the Government of Canada here

Organize your assets

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)/Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) statements: 

These are separate from your pension because they do not need to be valued. They are only tax-deferred investment accounts, and their value at any time is the amount in the account balance. 

You can find your RRSP statements on the CRA website under My Account

Statements for all bank accounts and cancelled cheques:  

If you have online banking, you should be able to print out bank statements from any account under your name, or held jointly between you and your spouse. Make sure your statement dates back at least three years, or since your separation (whichever one is longer). Depending on your bank, you may be limited to a certain number of months or years that you can date back to. If this is the case, you can go to your local branch and ask them to print out your bank statement for you. 

A cancelled cheque is used to prove that a bank account belongs to you. Similarly to bank statements, every bank will give you different access to cancelled cheques. For most banks, individuals can access images of their cancelled cheques online. Some banks include them on the last page of the monthly bank statement, or you can go to your bank and they will give you a document that will prove your holding to an account.  

Statements from your Insurance Company: 

Most insurance companies grant you access to your policy details and information on your currently achieved insurance in your online account. If not, you can also contact your agent for assistance finding documents. Remember to include policies proving your ownership of any vehicle, life, and/or home insurance (regardless whether it is individual or through an employer). Include any documents relating to loans or cash balances. 

Statements of all securities you own: 

For the majority, this section is for investments, such as stocks and bonds. When you initially invest, you will receive a statement showing the activity in your account. You should also receive an investment statement every year, and every month where you perform a transaction. Check your investment account statement to make sure all the information is updated and complete. 

Business

If you or your spouse is self-employed, be sure to provide any income tax returns, tax forms, and business contracts related to the business. Include all the businesses that you and your spouse held interest in for the past three years to provide an accurate picture of your business investments. Also, keep documents that refer to business expenses, bank statements, receipts, and financial statements. 

The CRA website gives you access to your business tax returns, corporate account balances, transactions, and notices of assessment. You can find them by logging in to My Business Account on the CRA website.  

Take care of your finances

Employment

Recent pay stubs

Include your past five pay stubs from all sources of employment, as well as your spouse’s past five pay stubs if possible. If you are self-employed, be sure to record your business-related income in the “Business” section above. 

You may also include a copy of any financial statements you or your spouse have created (in order to secure a loan, for example), as well as any other documents that are related to sources that provide you and your spouse’s income, or establish your net worth. 

Financial

Draft Financial Statement

Use the Ontario Financial statement form 13.1 to draft your own. 

GST/HST

By logging on to My Account on the CRA website, you will have access to your statement of account, and account balance which should be printed out and provided in your documentation. 

Notice of Assessment

After processing your tax return from the previous year, the Canada Revenue Agency will send you a Notice of Assessment. Alternatively, you can also log into My Account to view and print out your Assessment on the CRA website. Include anything that has been issued over the past three years. 

Personal Income Tax Return

Include all individual and joint tax returns for you and your spouse from the past three years. These, as well as your information slips (T4, T4A, T5) can be found at My Account on the CRA website.

Universal Child Care Benefit Notice

If you have previously received support from the Universal Child Care Benefit, include all relevant and related documents. You should be able to find payments, account balances, and statement of accounts at My Account on the CRA website.

Marriage

Court Orders

To obtain court orders from any previous or present relations, you will need to request them from the court office where your divorce case started. It would also be wise to call the court in advance to learn what steps are necessary for you to receive these documents. For example, some documents require a payment to acquire (for example a Certificate of Divorce costs $19.00).

Child support orders will be available on request at: 

Ministry of the Attorney General
McMurtry-Scott Building
720 Bay Street, 11th Floor
Toronto, ON
M7A 2S9

Telephone toll-free: 1-800-518-7901
Telephone Toronto: 416-326-2220

Marriage Contract or Agreement

Some spouses sign a marriage agreement (otherwise known as a pre-nuptial agreement, or cohabitation agreement for unmarried partners) in order to outline legal conclusions regarding the living and financial arrangement, should the relationship terminate. If you and your former spouse have one, be sure to include it in your documentation. 

Marriage contract or agreement

Original Marriage Certificate

If you do not have a marriage certificate, ordering one online is simple and inexpensive. Service Ontario offers them for $15 to $22. To order one, the following is required: 

  • A marriage that was registered in Ontario (you can only order your marriage certificate 6-8 weeks after your marriage license has been sent to Service Ontario)
  • First and last names of both parties to the marriage
  • The date of marriage, and
  • The name of city or town where the marriage took place

If you do not live in Ontario, your province will offer something similar, whether the ordering process is online or by mail. Prices may vary. 

Separation Agreement

Thistoo provides an online tool that will help you create your separation agreement. A separation agreement solidifies you and your partners’ rights regarding: 

  1. How assets and debts are divided
  2. Spousal/child support payments
  3. Child custody/access and more

Get started on your separation agreement here

Property

Appraisal Reports

A real property appraisal is an unbiased estimate of the true market value of what a property is worth. Appraisers use a number of different criteria to determine property worth, but some examples include recent sales information of similar properties, the condition and the location.

When you mortgage your house, it is usually required by your lender to get an appraisal for your house in order to have an objective opinion on the property’s market value. If you have had an appraiser look at your house, you can include those documents. 

Keep in mind that real property includes any land, homes, and/or buildings that you own.

Charges registered on title for all real property

If you have a mortgage on your house that hasn’t been paid off, be sure to call your bank to find out what remaining charges need to be paid off. Similarly, if you have financed your car either through the bank (direct lending), or through the car dealership you purchased your car from (dealership financing), contact the appropriate institution.

TASK SMARTLIST

While the Document Smartlist above lists the forms you need to prepare for divorce, the Task Smartlist gives a list of everything, big and small, that should be prepared to ensure a smooth divorce process. 

Financial

Some banks allow customers to apply for credit cards online, and others require you to go in to the bank.  The process should be quick and simple if you have a good credit history. While you are there, you can also notify the bank of your divorce, have the tellers close any joint bank accounts, and create a new personal account. It will also be beneficial to request an up to date bank account statement to remove your name from shared billing accounts, and to ensure you haven’t missed adjusting or removing your name from any other accounts.

It would be wise to change or reset any bank account pins that are shared between you and your spouse by going to your local bank. Bring two pieces of ID with you aside from your bank card.

 

Legal

Life insurance beneficiaries can be revocable or irrevocable. If they are revocable, you can change the name listed any time you want without informing the person who is currently listed. If they are irrevocable, you need the beneficiary’s written permission before making any changes. You can have more than one person listed as a beneficiary. In that case, the money will be split evenly between the two. 

Note that if you live in Quebec, your beneficiary is irrevocable, unless you purposefully said otherwise when you first designated your spouse. 

The method you choose to update your will depends on your unique circumstances. Nevertheless, the two most common methods are by way of codicil, or writing a new will. A codicil is an add-on to your will, and can be compared to a “P.S.” at the bottom of a letter. There are no rules on what you can or cannot include in your codicil; however most use the codicil when making small changes because changing large sections can be confusing for someone to revisit in the future. 

 

We hope this post will help you navigate our Organize section with ease. We know that preparing all these documents can be daunting, but it is a necessary step on the path to completing your divorce. 

Feel free to contact us by filling out the form below if you have any further questions. You can also call us at 1-800-208-7619 or email us at support@thistoo.co and one of our customer support staff will gladly assist you as soon as possible.