The exchange of financial information and documents is a standard first step in most matters as it allows a Balance Sheet to be drawn up and for the parties and their lawyers to establish what is available for division in the family law matter. The exchange of documents ensures that each party is aware of the financial circumstances of the relationship and is able to reach an agreement after making an informed decision.
The obligation for each party to have the necessary information available to make an informed decision is enforced in the Family Law Rules 2004.The Rules require each party to a marriage to provide full and frank disclosure in regards to property matters. This means that each person has a positive obligation to provide or make available all relevant documents within their custody and control. This includes documents regarding all sources of earnings, interest, income, property and other financial resources. The duty of disclosure is an ongoing duty until your matter has been finalised.
The Rules provide that if a party does not disclose a document as required the party:
- is unable to rely on the document as evidence in their hearing or trial without permission from the other party or Court
- may be guilty of contempt for not disclosing the document, and
- may be ordered to pay costs.
In addition to these consequences the Court may stay or dismiss all or part of the party’s case or in the alternate use the Court’s discretion to attribute a value of the undisclosed assets (and usually to the detriment of the non-compliant party).
Now before handing over everything from the last 20 years, it is important to get legal advice as there are several exceptions worth noting. The duty of disclosure only extends to “relevant” documents and documents that relate to a party of the marriage, not third parties.
How We Help…
Marriage or relationship breakdown is one of the most stressful life events that you will encounter. Getting through it and successfully moving on will depend on many things, including the compassion, ability and experience of your Family Lawyer.
We understand the difficulties often encountered by parties involved in Family Law disputes and assist our clients to achieve both short and long term objectives.
If your aim is to get things resolved fairly and quickly so that you can get on with life and/or make a fresh start, call now to speak to one our Family Lawyers.