17 Nov What Is Disclosure For Parenting Matters?
In parenting proceedings, parties have a duty to disclose any information relevant to the care and welfare of the child/children and the parenting capacity of the parents. This can include the following:
- School reports
- Medical reports
- Expert reports
- Letters and drawings by child
- A diary, and
- The criminal records of a party
The duty of disclosure also applies to any documentation or information regarding domestic or family violence or the intervention of the police or Child Safety. In parenting proceedings, full and frank disclosure enables the court to make accurate determinations about the best interests of the child/children and make Orders that reflect the best interests and well-being of the child/children.
What Is An Undertaking Concerning Disclosure?
All parties must file an undertaking before the court proceedings. The undertaking must explain that the parties have read 6.1 and 6.2 of the rules and understand their responsibilities to provide detailed and honest disclosures of all relevant information to the situation. Entering into an undertaking is committing to honesty to the Court and will be treated as if it were an Order of the Court.
You must never sign an undertaking if you are aware that any information surrounding the issue you are about to present is misleading or false in any way. Presenting untrue information will result in serious penalties.
What Happens If A Party Is Misleading With A Disclosure?
The responsibility of a disclosure comes with strict rules. You will face hefty penalties if you breach the integrity of full disclosure and may face a charge of Contempt of Court. If you fail to provide an honest disclosure statement with hidden information or documents that the Court considers evidence, they will assume you have hidden assets. In previous incidents, the Court has acted on these findings, granting full Orders to the opposing party.
As mentioned, the penalties for not providing information are serious. If you fail to provide honest and full documents and information, the Court may decide to deal with it in numerous ways. Penalties may include:
- Refusing to allow the use of that information or documentation as evidence in your case.
- Dismissing sections or the entirety of the case.
- Demanding costs from the dishonest party.
- Submitting a fine or an arrest to the non-disclosing party for Contempt of Court.
This year, a Judge in Brisbane declared that one party in a Family Law proceeding was breaching the honesty of the undertaking by withholding financial documents. They made a declaration of Contempt of Court, whereby the party received 12 months imprisonment. The party appealed the Order, supported by the other party. The Judge reminded them that imprisonment is the last resort regarding Contempt of Court cases.