Serious Consequences If You Do Not Provide All Your Financial Documents In Your Family Law Matter
Whilst at the start of your property dispute it may seem like a good idea to keep some of your financial information available only to you, this is a big mistake.
If you are in a property dispute you are required to provide all your financial information to the other party. This includes providing any information that the other party may not know about.
If not all your financial information is provided, or false information is provided, you then may find yourself in a sticky situation.
What are full and frank disclosure documents?
Full and frank disclosure documents are the specific documents you would need to provide so that the other party has information on all your sources of earnings, and the details of your assets and liabilities.
These documents are:
- All your personal and business income tax returns, assessments and financial statements.
- All rate notices for all properties you hold.
- Copies of bank statements for all savings, cheque, passbook and other accounts held by you, either solely or with another person.
- Registration certificates for all motor vehicles, boats, caravans, trailers etc. owned by you, either solely or with another person.
- Valuations/appraisals of any assets.
- Your most recent loan documents with respect to any assets of the relationship.
- Copies of any insurance policies and superannuation accounts held by you.
- All documents relating to any assets disposed of since separation.
What happens when you don’t provide all this information?
There are serious consequences if you are not completely honest in providing all the above documents.
Not disclosing any information or being dishonest as to your financial situation is short-sighted, because whilst there may a short-term gain in hiding or not disclosing particular information, should the Court find you guilty of doing so, the penalties can be severe in future including:
- Having the financial information you provided made irrelevant in the eyes of the Court
- Having your case be delayed or dismissed by the Court
- Incurring an order to pay your estranged partner’s legal costs and also the Court’s costs
- Being fined or imprisoned if you are found guilty of contempt of Court
What if the other party is not disclosing their financial information?
If the other party has failed to honestly disclose their full and frank disclosure documents and is reluctant to do so even after numerous requests, the Court may assume their interest in any property for the purposes of working out the total pool of assets.
Generally, the Court will then use their discretion to determine the property split between you and the other party which is likely to be in your favour and adverse to your estranged partner’s position.
It is best to be honest!
Of course, it may be uncomfortable to disclose all these financial documents as they are so personal.
But attempting to hide assets or minimise your true value to benefit from your position will not be taken lightly.
A good family lawyer will not only ensure that proper and detailed disclosure is obtained from the other party, but will also ensure you are educated about your obligations.