Yes — Bank Statements (not just balances) are required (and more!)
“Please send me your bank statements, tax returns, pay slips, superannuation statements ……” This is one of the most common, but arguably important emails you will get from your Family Lawyer during the conduct of your property settlement matter.
Undoubtedly, financial disclosure is tedious, time-consuming and often feels like an invasion of your privacy. However, it is, undoubtedly, the most important aspect of ensuring your property settlement matter has the best chance of prompt resolution in a way that is safe from challenge down the track.
Financial disclosure is where you provide all information relevant to an issue in your case. The duty you owe to disclose is owed both to the Court and to the other party. The duty begins before Court proceedings are filed and continues until such time as the matter is finalised. The requirement is to provide all documents that you have in your possession (i.e., physical documents), power or control (i.e., you have the capacity to obtain them, such as downloading bank statements or requesting your accountant provide them).
If you are involved in Court proceedings regarding property settlement and you do not provide full and frank financial disclosure, the Court may:
- Refuse to allow you to use information or evidence to support your case
- Suspend or dismiss the case
- Make a costs order against the non-disclosing party
Financial disclosure is daunting. Getting expert family law advice is an important aspect of understanding what is required of you.
The Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Rules 2021 sets out specifically some documents that a party is required to provide PRIOR to the first Court event. These are:
- Three most recent tax returns AND assessments;
- Documents showing your superannuation interests
- If you have an ABN, your four last BAS statements
- If there is a partnership, trust, or company (other than public company) in which you have an interest – copies of the three most recent financial statements and last four BAS statements.
Other more general requirements include the obligation to disclose all documents which would establish:
- Your earnings and income
- Any interest in any property
- Any interest in any financial resource (such as a Trust or deceased estate)
- Your liabilities
These more general obligations require disclosure of bank statements, pay slips and the like. It is important that you gather these documents promptly when requested by your lawyer and ideally prior to your first consultation with your Family Lawyer.
The consequences for failing to disclose and your matter being finalised without full and frank financial disclosure can include your agreement being set aside or “voided” by the Court and allowing your former partner to make further claims for property settlement.
Alternatively, if you have not resolved your property settlement matter and the Court considers that you have intentionally withheld relevant information from the other party and the Court when it makes its decision about the division of your assets, the Court may give your ex more of your assets. This is because there is an assumption that you are hiding assets if you do not provide full and frank disclosure.
If you are involved in a property settlement matter and you are not sure of what is required of you, contact the team at Gold Coast Lawyers who will guide you through your obligations and assist in getting you a prompt and safe resolution of your property settlement. Contact Family Lawyers us on this 5555 0000, via our website or through our social media.