Family Law Balance Sheets & Financial Disclosure

26th October 2016

By Nicole Pozovsky

Have you been asked to provide a long list of financial documents in your family law matter? Are you feeling overwhelmed about preparing your disclosure documents and don’t know where to start?

Each party to a Family Law matter has a duty to provide full and frank disclosure. This means that there is an obligation on each party to provide honest and accurate financial documents that evidence their current financial position. Typically, you will be asked to provide documents such as bank statements, tax returns, superannuation statements and payslips. For a more comprehensive list, click here.  Upon providing us with copies of your financial documents they will be reviewed and usually then forwarded to the other party’s solicitor.

Our tips when it comes to providing disclosure include:

  1. Provide full statements. Clients often make the mistake of providing account summaries. These will not be sufficient, as they do not show the activity of the bank account but only the final balance.

  2. Don’t provide screenshots of snapshots of your accounts. These images can be edited and modified. Instead, provide copies of the full bank statements, which can be obtained via online banking or from your financial institution.

  3. Label or group your documents. Organising your financial documents into groups or labelling the documents with post-it-notes will make it faster and easier for us to review the documents and send them on to the other party’s solicitor. This is ultimately more cost-effective for you.

  4. Don’t mark up the documents. If you would like to draw our attention to any particular matter or transaction, we recommend that you write your comments on stickers or post-it-notes and attach them to your documents. This is important, as we will need to provide copies of these documents to the other party’s solicitor and therefore, cannot include your comments.

Once you have exchanged disclosure documents, you may proceed to preparing a Balance Sheet. The purpose of preparing a Balance Sheet is for the parties to attribute values to all of the assets and liabilities of the relationship.  In order to prepare a Balance Sheet, you will need to itemise, describe and provide your value for each of your assets and liabilities.

If you are preparing a Joint Balance Sheet, the other party will undertake the same process in the column next to your values. This document will highlight if there are any discrepancies in your respective values and the source of the discrepancies.

A Balance Sheet is important in identifying the asset pool that will be available for division between the parties in all family law matters.

Our tips for preparing a Balance Sheet include the following:

  1. Only fill in the column that applies to you. The Balance Sheet will have two columns one that is labelled “Husband or De Facto Partner’s value” and one that is labelled “Wife or De Facto Partner’s value.” Only place your values under the heading relevant to you, as the adjacent column will be for the other party’s values.

  2. Provide current values. It is important that the Balance Sheet accurately reflects your current financial position. This means you will need to review your financial documents and provide the most recent values available to you.

  3. Provide evidence for your value. Where you have provided a value for an asset or liability that the other party does not have access to, such as a bank account in your sole name, you will need to provide them with a copy of the bank statement which corroborates the value you have given in accordance with your duty to provide full and frank disclosure.

  4. If you are unsure of the value of an asset, mark the asset ‘N.K’ for ‘Not Known’. This will identify the items that require financial disclosure from the other party or the items which require a formal valuation.

  5. Keep your value for ‘Home Contents’ realistic. The value attributed to your Home Contents should reflect the resale value of your belongings which is likely to be less than their value when they were purchased.

If you would like specialist family law advice in relation to your family law financial settlement or have been approached to provide full and frank financial disclosure in relation to your family law matter then please contact us on 94370010 or enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au to discuss in complete confidence. We are conveniently situated in St Leonards on Sydney’s Lower North Shore and have a team of experienced and caring professional Family Lawyers available to help you.

These posts are only intended as an overview or comment on current issues that may interest you and are not legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

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