When parties are involved in a family law dispute, both parties are required to make full and frank disclosure of all information which is directly relevant to the matter. This is referred to as the ‘duty of disclosure’.
This means that any information that a party has in their possession or control must be provided by them to the other party to the dispute. Parties must disclose all aspects of their financial position regardless of the other party’s previous knowledge of or involvement in the financial matters.
It is important to note that the duty of disclosure is an ongoing obligation which only comes to an end when the matter is finalised.
Often when parties come to an agreement in family law matters, they want to document that agreement as soon as possible. To ensure the validity of the documentation and to prevent any future court action, it is important for both parties to comply with their duty of disclosure, even if they have reached an agreement as to the distribution of their assets.
If the duty of disclosure if not complied with, the court has the power to impose serious penalties, including:-
- awarding a greater portion of the property pool to a spouse or partner as compensation;
- making an Order that a party pay the other party’s legal costs; or
- finding that party guilty of contempt of the court and imposing a fine or a term of imprisonment.
Should you require further information or advice in relation to complying with your duty of disclosure, please do not hesitate to contact our office and speak with one of our friendly Solicitors.