OsgoodePD program demystifies financial statements in family law

Hand writing on financial statement document

Financial statements might be the most underrated documents in family law, according to Annie Kenet and Eric Sadvari, co-chairs of the Financial Statements for Family Lawyers Boot Camp, a new program developed by York University’s Osgoode Professional Development (OsgoodePD) to transform the way family lawyers think about this critical document.

“It’s the backbone of most family law cases,” says Sadvari, a senior associate at Toronto firm Kenet Family Law. “But many practitioners treat it as more of a fill-in-the-blanks exercise than a vital piece of advocacy.”

Annie Kenet
Annie Kenet

Properly utilized, the financial statement can even enhance a lawyer’s relationship with their client, says Kenet, the firm’s founder.

“Financial statements inform every part of my client interaction,” she says. “From understanding my client’s financial needs to determining what type of settlement they can live with, the statement enables me to speak to my client about the practical realities of their current and future financial viability.”  

The origins of the new OsgoodePD Financial Statements for Family Lawyers Boot Camp can be traced back to the Osgoode Certificate in Family Law Skills and Practice, for which Sadvari and Kenet led a module focused on financial statements and discovered the untapped demand for more information among family law practitioners.

It came as no surprise to Sadvari that so many newly qualified family lawyers feel ill-equipped to deal with financial statements.

Eric Sadvari
Eric Sadvari

“I never took any tax, bankruptcy or estate classes, because I didn’t think I was going to be spending a lot of time on those issues,” he says.

But he was mistaken, soon learning that finances are a major part of the family law system, and they’re not always as straight forward as one might think. Something as simple as determining a person’s income, for example, can become a contentious issue if the person is self-employed or has a number of income sources.

Focusing exclusively on the financial statement, the new boot camp will allow time to tackle the document in depth, detail by detail, with small class sizes enabling for more group interaction. By the end of the program, students should be able to expertly complete each section.

The inaugural edition of this intensive program will take place online over two days of interactive sessions from April 12 to 13, where attendees will hear from a group of senior practitioners, chartered business valuators, and judges about best practices and potential pitfalls to keep in mind when preparing and presenting financial statements.

“Anyone who wants to be a stronger lawyer on financial issues would benefit from attending,” Kenet adds. “A financial statement is not just a form clients have to fill out, it is the primary tool family lawyers have to articulate our clients’ financial position, advocate for their financial entitlements and negotiate a financial resolution.”

To learn more and to register, visit the Financial Statements for Family Lawyers Boot Camp web page.