Family Law Financial Disclosure

18th June 2015

By Lisa Wagner

Are you contemplating a separation? Do you need a property settlement and don’t know where to begin? Or have you been asked to provide a long list of financial documents or information or to complete a Financial Statement?

If you are intending to separate or have recently separated and need a financial settlement or you face these challenges then you should read on.

Anyone experiencing these issues can take practical steps to keep control of the process and avoid hefty legal bills.

If you are contemplating a separation or have not long ago separated then there is information that you can collect and documents that you can gather that will assist you to resolve your matter more quickly and minimise the costs and angst that can sometimes arise in a family law dispute.

When a marriage or a de facto relationship breaks down each party has an obligation to provide to the other party a full and frank disclosure of their financial circumstances. The types of documents and information that are usually required are likely to include the following:

  1. Copy statements in respect of all bank accounts held by you, or jointly with any person or in respect of which you have an interest held either in Australia or overseas from the date of separation to date.
  2. Copy statements in respect of all credit and charge card facilities held by you or operated by you, solely or jointly with any person, firm or corporation in Australia or elsewhere from the date of separation to date.
  3. Particulars of shareholdings you have in any private or unlisted company or have held in any private or unlisted company in Australia or overseas as at and since the date of separation including:
    3.1. Name of the company;
    3.2. ACN or other identifying number;
    3.3. Number and class of shares held by you or entities associated with you;
    3.4. Copies of financial statements and tax returns for the past 3 financial years;
    3.5. Business Activity Statements for the period 12 months prior to separation and/or 12 months prior to the first court date for each entity; and
    3.6. Copies of the Constitution for each entity.
  4. Particulars of shareholdings in each public company that you have or have held since the period 12 months prior to separation until the present, either in Australia or overseas including:
    4.1. Name of the company;
    4.2. Country in which the company was incorporated;
    4.3. Details of the Stock Exchange where the company is listed including the address;
    4.4. Number of shares held by you or entities associated with you or others on your behalf;
    4.5. Current market value of the shares;
    4.6. Date of disposal and particulars of disposal of all shares disposed of since 12 months prior to separation to date; and
    4.7. Amounts received by you from each such disposal.
  5. In relation to any self-managed superannuation fund, copies of the last three (3) financial statements and income tax returns and all particulars and documents relevant to the interest since the last financial statements or income tax returns were provided.
  6. With regard to any further superannuation rights and entitlements either within Australia or overseas:
    6.1. Most recent member benefit statement;
    6.2. A valuation of each such interest including particulars of how each such interest was calculated and all supporting documents; and
    6.3. A completed Superannuation Information form in relation to each superannuation fund.
  7. In respect of each life insurance policy held by you from the date of separation either within Australia or overseas, the following particulars:
    7.1. Name and address of the insurance company;
    7.2. Policy number;
    7.3. Beneficiaries nominated on the policy;
    7.4. Name on the policy;
    7.5. Commencement date of the policy;
    7.6. Current surrender value of the policy;
    7.7. Date of maturation of the policy; and
    7.8. Benefits payable upon maturation
  8. In respect of each trust of which you have been as and from the date of separation, the settlor, appointor, trustee (or member of a corporate trustee), beneficiary or potential beneficiary either in Australia or overseas:
    8.1. A copy of the trust deed and documents amending the trust deed;
    8.2. Any financial documents and tax returns of the trust for the past three (3) years;
    8.3. Minute books of the trust from inception of the trust to date; and
    8.4. Name and location of the corporate trustee (if applicable).
  9. Your personal Income Tax Returns and Notices of Assessment for the past three (3) financial years.
  10. All documents and records evidencing the ownership by you of any other assets such as shares, investments, insurances, motor vehicles and the like.
  11. Market appraisals for any item of property in which a party has an interest, including real property, motor vehicles, jewellery, antiques, artworks and the like.
  12. All documents and records evidencing any loan, debts or liabilities in your name.

Once all of the necessary financial information has been exchanged it is then possible to begin to unravel a couple’s joint financial arrangements and secure a family law financial settlement. With a complete picture of the financial landscape of the relationship it is much easier to begin this task.

Often the exchange of financial information and documents is only part of the picture. Each party is also expected and obliged to answer reasonable requests for additional information. This may include providing evidence of the ownership of assets at the start of the relationship or providing details of the manner in which income was applied during the relationship or in relation to a particular assets or joint venture project.

Having a complete picture of the current financial landscape is not always easy to achieve and can be fraught with challenges. A Balance Sheet can take parties time to complete. With the help of Accredited Specialist Family lawyers this process can be expedited and streamlined but it can also become expensive.

Five top tips to get the best Balance Sheet for the least cost that you should keep front of mind in your separation are:

  1. Gather the necessary documents, if at all possible, before you see your divorce and family lawyer.
  2. Engage a Specialist family lawyer so time is not wasted on irrelevant information and the collection of unhelpful and/or unimportant documents.
  3. Answer all reasonable requests for additional information promptly.
  4. Don’t be afraid to engage a third party expert valuer to help you determine the value of an asset if it is not agreed or known.
  5. Set yourself a realistic framework to complete the exercise. Collecting documents and answering questions can take time and you should set aside time each week to work on these requests.

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 contact us at Doolan Wagner Family Lawyers on 9437 0010 or email us on enquiries@familylawyersdw.com.au. We have a highly experienced family law team and Accredited Family Law Specialists who can 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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