Published: 05 April 2018
Author: Ryan Carlisle Thomas
Financial disclosure in family law property settlement matters
Upon the breakdown of a relationship/marriage, clients are often concerned about providing their financial disclosure to the other party in relation to family law property settlement matters. They may be concerned that the other party may use this information against them or not wish to disclose financial records in relation to assets or liabilities which the other party was not aware of during the relationship/marriage or obtained post separation. The financial disclosure exchanged with the other party can only be used for the current Court proceedings. Further, the financial disclosure must be relevant to the matter.
The reason for requesting financial disclosure is a requirement under the Family Law Rules 2004. This is often referred to as “duty of disclosure”. This duty is to the Court and the other party to provide “full and frank disclosure” of all information relevant to the case in a timely manner. Financial disclosure must be exchanged prior to any final agreement is reached, such as Consent Orders or a Financial Agreement being entered into by the parties, or before one party can file an Application to the Court. The duty of disclosure commences when the parties start negotiating their settlement until the matter is finalised. Therefore, if the matter was to proceed to a final hearing, then financial disclosure must be continuously disclosed to the other party until the final hearing.
"Full and Frank disclosure" between parties
The reasons for obtaining the financial disclosure is to establish the value of the property pool and financial resources of both parties. This includes all property in either joint or sole names, assets or liabilities with a third party or assets which have been disposed of since separation. The financial disclosure is then exchanged with the other party or their solicitor to ensure the “full and frank disclosure” obligation has been satisfied. This ensures all parties agree upon the value of the property pool and financial resources, such as income.
If one party has not provided “full and frank disclosure” or the value of the assets and liabilities of the property pool have not been agreed upon, then no agreement can be finalised between the parties, such as Consent Orders or Financial Agreement. If Consent Orders or a Financial Agreement have been entered into without “full and frank disclosure” then those agreements may be set aside by the Court. If the matter was before the Court and one party refused to provide financial disclosure then they may be found to be in contempt of Court.
If you have any queries in relation to financial disclosure, please contact our family law team for an initial free appointment.