Today we present Part 3 in our Financial Settlements in Family Law series.
Today, we shall discuss what “full and frank disclosure” means in your Family Law matter.
If you’ve ever been involved in a Family Law matter, you’ll know that “full and frank disclosure” is required in Family Court and Federal Circuit Court proceedings.
But what is “full and frank disclosure”?
The Duty of Disclosure
Rule 13.01 of the Family Law Rules 2004 (Cth) states that:
“each party to a case has a duty to the court and to each other party to give full and frank disclosure of all information relevant to the case, in a timely manner.”
The duty of disclosure may require parties to:
- Disclose information about their financial circumstances;
- Provide documents to the court and other parties; and
- Answer specific questions.
Documents that are typically disclosed include:
- Tax returns;
- Payslips and payment summaries;
- Bank statements;
- Superannuation statements;
- Trust Deeds, Company Constitutions, Partnership Agreements;
- BAS Statements and other business documentation;
- Information about the purchase, sale or transfer or assets; and
- Asset valuations.
If you have a question about disclosure, or what needs to be disclosed, get legal advice.
Disclosure is based on fairness. It helps parties to:
- Focus on the relevant issues;
- Avoid unnecessary arguments about non-disclosure (or hidden, transferred or undervalued assets);
- Reduce stress;
- Minimise legal costs; and
- Settle the case early and fairly.
What Happens If I Don’t Disclose?
Parties sometimes resist disclosure, perhaps for ‘privacy’ reasons. Parties might think that non-disclosure will give them an advantage, and that the court or other parties won’t notice. This is a serious error. The consequences for non-disclosure include:
- A party’s lawyer may refuse to continue acting for them;
- The court and other parties may assume the party is wilfully hiding assets or information;
- The court may refuse to give a party permission to use certain information or documents in their case;
- The court may stay or dismiss a party’s case;
- The court may order a party to pay Costs; and
- The court may fine or imprison a party for contempt of court.
The Other Party Isn’t Disclosing – What Do I Do?
If you know or suspect the other party isn’t disclosing relevant information, speak to your lawyer. It may be necessary to hire other experts (forensic accountants, etc.) to establish non-disclosures.
For further information about the duty of disclosure, please see the Family Court’s guide here.
Seek Expert Advice
Martin Bullock Lawyers are experts in Family Law. We understand disclosure. We help our clients to achieve excellent, fast and fair results.
If you need assistance with a Family Law matter, call Greg Martin or Jacqueline Wainwright on (02) 9687 9322.