Family Law Disclosure In Financial & Property Disputes | FEDEROV
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Family Law Disclosure In Financial and Property Disputes

When it comes to financial matters, the accuracy of an individual’s assets, liabilities, superannuation and income may only be apparent in documentation to which that individual only has access. This is why the duty of disclosure is exceptionally important in Family Law disputes and in assuring the dispute is dealt with appropriately and fairly.

The duty of disclosure commences from the start of the dispute and continues until the proceedings are finalised.

The items that are required to be disclosed change on a case-by-case basis, meaning the disclosure requirements for each matter will vary; however, the following are commonly required documents to disclose in family law matters:

  • Payslips;
  • Centrelink Statements;
  • Group Certificates;
  • Details of real property, including valuations or appraisals;
  • Tax returns;
  • Bank Statements;
  • Share portfolios;
  • Details of loans, including mortgages;
  • Superannuation statements;
  • Details of interests in any company or trust;
  • Any disposal of property; and
  • Any financial resource that the party benefits from.

 

Parties are required to disclose all sources of earnings, interest, income, property (vested or contingent interest), and other financial resources. While parties have to disclose assets that they directly benefit from, such as their salary, investment properties, joint assets, etc., they must also disclose any assets that may not be in their name, but they financially benefit from these assets. This may include trusts, companies, corporations and assets held by children, de facto partners or married partners.

Non-Disclosure And What It Means For You?

Disclosure is mandatory in financial and property disputes. Within Family Law, it is a necessity and exact. When non-disclosure occurs between either party, it is considered a breach of their obligation. Parties who breach this obligation may be charged with contempt of Court.

Parties who are not full and frank with their disclosure face significant penalties. Transparency must be maintained throughout the process, with no delays or attempts to stall the conclusion of the dispute.

Any attempt to deviate from complete disclosure to the Court is seen as a breach. Documentation, critical information and evidence that is not openly provided are regarded as efforts to hide assets from the other party. Not only are the penalties severe, but in previous cases, the Court has used this to proceed with Orders in favour of said other party.

Understanding The Penalties Of Non-Disclosure

 Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 (Cth), r 6.06(3)(a)-(h).
Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, ‘Duty of Disclosure’, Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, (Brochure, 2022) <https://www.fcfcoa.gov.au/fl/pubs/duty-disclosure>.
 Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, ‘Duty of Disclosure’, Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, (Brochure, 2022) <https://www.fcfcoa.gov.au/fl/pubs/duty-disclosure>.

Failure to put forward full and frank disclosure is discouraged because the penalties can be severe with legal consequences for years to come. The Court may resort to the following:

  • Potentially stay or dismiss all or part of the case.
  • Order costs against the non-disclosing party. 
  • Impose the non-disclosing party with financial penalties. 
  • Imprison the non-disclosing party for breaching the obligation of disclosure. This is considered contempt of Court and leads to you being found guilty.
  • Refrain from allowing the use of the non-disclosed information as evidence to support their case.

 

The Long-Term Consequences Of Non-Disclosure

In a recent Family Law dispute, the husband in the case was found to be “in contempt” by a Brisbane-based Judge. This ruling was made due to his failing to disclose specific financial documents and he was sentenced to imprisonment for twelve months. With the support of the wife, the husband appealed the Judge’s order. but the Judge of the appeal was clear that imprisonment is often the final resort in such court cases.

In cases where you are unsure of what needs to be disclosed, it is best to seek the advice of legal experts. FEDOROV Family Lawyers specialise in family law and can support your case in financial or property disputes. Speak to us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

 Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, ‘Duty of Disclosure’, Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, (Brochure, 2022) <https://www.fcfcoa.gov.au/fl/pubs/duty-disclosure>; Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (Family Law) Rules 2021 (Cth), r 6.17(a)-(b); Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), s 112AP.
Ashleigh Stevenson, ‘Brisbane judge’s ruling overturned by Family Court as a ‘gross miscarriage of justice’ ABC News, (Web Page, 19 February 2019) <https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-19/brisbane-judges-ruling-slammed-by-family-court/10825922>.
Ibid
Ibid
Ibid