Financial Disclosure In Property Matters
“Duty of disclosure” is a legal requirement on the parties involved in a family law dispute regarding property issues to provide each other with all of the financial information relevant to their case. When parties are involved in a property dispute arising from a breakdown in a relationship, they are required to provide one another with all relevant information about their financial circumstances. This requirement is to give them the best possible chance of reaching an agreement themselves, and also to ensure that the Court has all of the relevant information if no agreement is able to be reached.
This means that both parties have to provide any documents, files, or information stored on a computer that are relevant, including any information that the other party may not know about. If all of the information is not provided, or false information is given, serious penalties and consequences may apply.
It is usually a good idea for all of this financial information to be exchanged very early in the process of negotiating property settlement so that both parties can be sure that they have full knowledge of the financial circumstances of the other party before making any decisions about settlement.
This fact sheet provides an overview of your obligations, but if you are currently involved in a family law dispute, your lawyer at Lamrocks will be able to help you understand your legal rights and responsibilities.
What is “Full and Frank Disclosure”?
In any family law property settlement, there are specific rules about full and frank disclosure to protect those involved and ensure that each party’s full financial circumstances are known.
The kind of information that you need to provide includes all sources of earnings, such as income from work, property, investments, dividends or interest. You also need to disclose any earnings you receive indirectly, for example earnings that are paid to a child or de-facto partner, or any that are held in trusts and companies etc. Details of any assets or property that was sold or had its ownership transferred, either in the year before separation or following separation, are also required. All assets and liabilities also need to be disclosed and it may be necessary to obtain valuations in relation to certain assets if the parties cannot agree on their values. In situations such as businesses, these valuations need to be conducted by experts.
If your property matter goes to Court you must file a Financial Statement with the Court outlining all of the above information before the case is heard. Your lawyer will provide you with a copy of the form to be used and if there is insufficient room to include all of the relevant information, or you need to add to it, you have to file an accompanying Affidavit to ensure everything is covered.
Importantly, when you meet with your lawyer at Lamrocks, they will discuss with you the financial details you need to provide, when you need to provide them, and help you to complete the form.
Why do I have to sign an undertaking about disclosure?
There is a rule in the Family Law Act that requires all parties involved to sign an undertaking (or a form of agreement) to state that they have:
b) are aware of their duty to the Court and the other party to provide a full and frank disclosure of all information relevant to the case in a timely manner.
The undertaking is included as part of the financial statement document. This is to ensure that the information you are providing in the Financial Statement and accompanying material is complete to the best of your knowledge and that you understand the implications of not providing the right information.
If you are found to have provided false information, or withheld information from the Court that is relevant to your property settlement, you could be found in contempt of Court and penalties applied. It is very important that you discuss your rights and obligations with your lawyer so that you comply with these rules.
What happens if I don’t provide the right information?
If you do not disclose all of the necessary information, fail to sign an undertaking, or sign a false undertaking, the Court will impose a penalty. This may include:
- Refusing to allow you to use the information or documentation as evidence in your case
- Staying or dismissing all or part of your case
- Ordering you to pay the other party’s legal and Court costs
- Imposing a fine or imprisonment if you are found in contempt of Court.
If you are involved in a family law dispute, obtaining professional legal advice is always encouraged. Your Lamrocks family lawyer will explain duty of disclosure to you in more detail, give you a checklist of information you need to provide, and ensure you understand your rights and obligations under the Family Law Act.
Your lawyer will also be able to advise you on the most appropriate course of action and which form of property arrangement will work best for you.
For more information on financial disclosure in property matters, contact the Lamrocks Family Law Team now.
Call 02 4731 5688 or email firstname.lastname@example.org