The duty to disclose is one that applies in both financial and property disputes and parenting matters. It is a requirement for all parties in a dispute and is important to ensure a just and equitable outcome.
What is financial disclosure?
Full and frank financial disclosure means that you are to disclose all assets, liabilities, superannuation and income that you have or had at the commencement of the relationship, during the relationship and at the time of the relationship breakdown. Disclosure may also be required of any assets acquired postseparation. Information or documents that may need to be disclosed can include, but are not limited to, payslips, tax returns or estimates, bank statements (including for general spending or saving accounts and home loans), superannuation statements, and evidence of any liabilities including credit card debts.
If items have been sold, transferred, assigned or gifted or if there has been a purchase of another item using funds acquired from the disposal of an asset, then this must be also communicated.
What sorts of documents might I need to disclose in a parenting matter?
The duty to disclose relates to any information relevant to the care and living arrangements of children. Examples of documents which may be required include medical or school reports, letters or drawings to parents and other information relating to the parenting capacity of the parties.
When do I disclose?
Please remember that the duty to disclose is ongoing throughout your Family Law dispute. This means that each party is required to provide timely and updated disclosure when additional information comes to light. The obligation concludes if the parties reach an agreement or once the Court makes final orders.
What are the penalties for not providing documents?
The consequences for a failure to disclose can be significant. In the first instance, neglecting your duty to provide full and frank disclosure will likely result in a Court order (subpoena) to comply with the disclosure of relevant documents. Continued failure to disclose or the provision of false/misleading information may result in the Court making orders to halt or dismiss the proceedings or an order that the non-disclosing party pay the legal costs of both sides. Such failure may also result in a finding that you are guilty of contempt of the Court, which could carry with it a fine or a term of imprisonment. We recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible to avoid any instance of this happening.
If you would like to know more about what is involved in a relationship breakdown and when you will need to provide disclosure, contact us to arrange a consultation today.