There is an obligation on both parties to a family law dispute to provide full and frank disclosure of all information and documentation relevant to the matter. This obligation is set out in rule 13.04 of the Family Law Rules and a similar provision is set out in rule 24.03 of the Federal Circuit Court Rules. The rules require disclosure of documents including income, assets, liabilities and financial resources. The information can be in the form of paper documentation or electronic records.
The obligation to provide disclosure commences during the pre-action stage and continues throughout the proceedings until the matter is finalised. Therefore, if circumstances change, parties may be required to provide updated information and documentation. It is important that both parties provide full and frank disclosure to ensure that the matter can progress in a timely and cost-effective manner.
If a party fails to make proper disclosure, a subpoena can be issued to obtain the necessary information and documentation. If a party fails to comply, the Court has discretion to award costs, refuse evidence in a case, stay or dismiss part of a case or in more extreme cases, fine or imprison a party for contempt of Court.
In 2019, Brisbane based Judge, Salvatore Vasta of the Federal Circuit Court sentenced a father to 12 months’ imprisonment for failing to disclose financial documentation. However, the Full Court of the Family Court overturned this decision after the father spent six days in a maximum-security prison.
To find out more about the requirements of disclosure, speak to one of our lawyers at Aston Legal Group.
If you would like to advice about separation and would like to be informed regarding your options for finalising your financial matters (including options to settle out of Court), contact us on 8391 8411 to book a free 30-minute consultation with us to discuss what steps you should take next.