When a couple separates, the issue of dividing assets – whether this be monetary, property or goods – is likely to cause stress for both parties at an already tumultuous time. As you and your partner’s relationship breaks down, it is possible there will be some suspicion at each other’s disclosure of assets, with the fear that the other party may be ‘hiding’ assets that are available to be distributed between the pair. Because of these concerns, it is vital that you are aware of the obligations you and your former partner will face in disclosing assets available for distribution to each other and the Courts. The law surrounding the duty of disclosure is complex; for this reason, it is highly recommended you seek the advice of a Family Lawyer to guide you through this important area of law.
The Duty of Disclosure
The ‘duty of disclosure’ in relation to asset distribution means that at law, you have an obligation to provide information about your finances, financial position and copies of all associated documents, to your former partner and the Court. The Family Court Rules 2004 state that you must give ‘full and frank’ disclosure of all sources of income, earnings, interest, property and any other relevant information, whether these be in both your names or just yours. You must also disclose any and all information about any disposal of property that has occurred in the 12 months prior to the separation.
How to Disclose
Your Family Lawyer will discuss the ways in which the Family Court accepts documents pertaining to the disclosure of assets.
Consequences of Not Disclosing Assets
If you do fail to disclose financial or property information in a manner the Court views as ‘full and frank’, they may use their discretion to order Costs against you and find you in contempt of Court, resulting in possible fines or imprisonment; among many other consequences.
Due to the serious consequences of not appropriately disclosing financial and property information, it is imperative that you seek legal advice if you are separated from your partner or thinking about separating.
If you have any questions about your disclosure obligations, separating from your partner or any other family law issue, give us a call on 02 8917 8700 or alternatively fill out the enquiry box detailing your issue and we will get back to you ASAP.