- People involved in family law matters have a duty to disclose all information and documents that are relevant to their case, and which are, or have been, in their possession or which they have the authority or ability to obtain.
The duty of disclosure starts from the time that you first commence negotiations until your family law matter is finalised, regardless of whether there are court proceedings or not.
The Family Law Courts has published a very helpful brochure “Duty of Disclosure” which you can access here: Duty of Disclosure Brochure.
The Duty of Disclosure brochure gives information about what documents are relevant.
- You have a duty to provide full and frank disclosure of all information relevant to your financial circumstances and the matrimonial property;
- This duty commences immediately and continues until the matter is resolved on a final basis;
- This means you are required to disclose to the other party, through your solicitors, information including but not limited to any changes to your income, disposal of assets by way of sale, gift, transfer or other means, increases in liabilities and any other changes, for example, receipt of inheritances, receipt of lottery or other windfalls, losses of significant sums of money;
- In addition to disclosing information, you need to provide copies of documents relating to your financial circumstances.
If you fail to comply with your obligation to provide disclosure, there are potential consequences of this non-disclosure:
- Any final court order or agreement can later be set aside or overturned; and
- The court has the power to exclude the evidence that has not been disclosed, dismiss your case, make a costs order against you or find you guilty of contempt of court and impose further penalties.
If you have any questions or concerns in relation to this duty of disclosure you should contact a lawyer so that they can discuss the issue with you and provide you with specific advice.