Disclosure

Disclosure

Full and frank disclosure of each party’s financial circumstances is central to alteration of property interests under family law. Disclosure obligations apply to each party and cannot be dispensed with by consent or otherwise.

Chapter 13 of the Family Law Rules deals with financial disclosure. Rule 13.04 provides a comprehensive list of disclosure material and information.

Section 79A of the Family Law Act provides for a property order (including a consent order) to be set aside where “there has been a miscarriage of justice by reason of fraud, duress, suppression of evidence (including failure to disclose relevant information), the giving of false evidence or any other circumstance” (our emphasis).

In order for any resolution of a family law property matter to be reliable, full and frank disclosure of both parties’ financial circumstances is compulsory. Generally, it makes sense for this disclosure to occur very early in a matter in order that both parties may receive detailed advice and may make informed decisions as soon as possible.

While leaving financial disclosure to the end of a matter is permissible, it often results in one or other party backing away from what seemed like a deal as they realise finances are not exactly as expected or that the deal is not as good as it seemed (and they would have decided differently if information had been available earlier).

Providing thorough disclosure early can also promote the kind of cooperation that might help resolve a family law matter more efficiently and cost-effectively – see Cooperation.

Many cases deal with disclosure obligations and the potentially unpleasant consequences of improper compliance with those obligations. Those cases tend to be interesting and, even, entertaining. Rather than listing those here, you might prefer to phone 9222 8000 and to ask about your particular circumstances.