How much financial information do I have to disclose to the other side in family law matters?
The answer to that question is fairly straightforward: both parties have a duty to provide ‘full and frank disclosure’ in both financial and parenting cases.
In financial cases this involves disclosing your entire financial circumstances including income from all sources, property and financial resources whether they come to a party directly or indirectly (ie through a trust or company structure etc). In addition, a party must disclose any disposal of property from the time 12 months prior to separation if it may affect a claim.
The information which must be disclosed is limited to such information which is relevant to an issue in a case and information which is in the possession or control of that party. Just because an asset will may not be divided as a result of the separation does not mean it should not be disclosed. The duty starts with the pre-action procedure and continues throughout proceedings. Hence there may be a need to provide updating documents along the way.
In parenting cases a party must disclose all information relevant to the case for example medical reports (regarding the child or parent), school reports, letters and drawings by a child and any other document which might be relevant to an issue.
Crucially in a parenting matter if a party obtains an expert report it must be disclosed to the other side and the independent children’s lawyer (if there is one). The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, it is in the best interests of the child that all parties are privy to all available information and secondly it avoids both parties arranging for the child to be seen by numerous experts which would clearly not be in a child’s best interests.
Consequences of failing to provide full and frank disclosure include:-
- the judge ruling that the party is unable to rely on the undisclosed information as evidence in their own case;
- a stay or dismissal of all or part of that party’s case;
- costs order; and
- ultimately a fine or imprisonment.