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Financial Disclosure In Property Settlement Cases

James Bailey
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28 February 2021

Financial disclosure is required in every property settlement case. 

The Family Court Rules and the Federal Circuit Court Rules have very clear requirements about the need to provide financial disclosure.  Despite the clear obligation to provide financial disclosure, it can often become a problem in property settlement cases.

Why do I need to disclose my financial circumstances?

Trust between former spouses often disintegrates completely when people separate.  Financial disclosure enables people to see all financial information and look into things for themselves instead of simply being told what is the case.  The family law system at its core expects people to be able to make informed decisions having access to all relevant information prior to completing a property settlement.

Financial disclosure obligations do continue after the date you separate

Frustratingly for many people the duty of financial disclosure continues until your property settlement is finalised.  Many people have a view that they should only provide financial disclosure up until the date when they separated and not after that time.  Many people think they should not have to provide bank statements for accounts after separation.  As hard as it may be for a party to accept, their view about whether they should have to provide a document is totally irrelevant as it is a legal obligation.

What if I don’t disclose all of my financial information?

A failure to disclose information can have a number of possible consequences including:-

  1. A person filing court proceedings because they are not getting information that has been requested in accordance with the rules;
  2. If a person is in court already and they fail to provide disclosure they can leave themselves open to a costs order being made against them;
  3. If a person repeatedly fails to provide adequate financial disclosure and the matter proceeds to Trial the court can draw a conclusion that the person is deliberately withholding information and that can result in them getting a smaller percentage of their asset pool.

A failure to provide financial disclosure will often frustrate a person’s chance of matters resolving amicably.  If you are in court, this will lead to the Judge getting cranky and this can result in the Judge forming a negative view of that person’s case.

In addition there are other ways of getting information by subpoenaing banks or accountants etc.  There is no good reason why someone should not provide financial disclosure.

What should I do if I am required to provide financial disclosure?

Collating and providing financial disclosure can be a time intensive process and it is recommended that you be as organised and efficient with this as you can be.  The provision of financial disclosure also has the potential to become expensive if it is not done well with lawyers needing to constantly extract information from the other party.

If you are unclear about what financial disclosure you need to provide or you have an ex partner who is not providing financial disclosure you are encouraged to seek legal advice about the best option for your case to resolve this issue.  Contact our office to make an appointment with one of our solicitors to obtain advice on your situation on 07 4963 2000 or through our online contact form below.