The duty of disclosure refers to an obligation to provide relevant information to another party in a case. It requires the parties to a family law dispute to provide each other with all information relevant to the issues in the case. This is applicable in both parenting and property matters.
The aim of disclosure is to help the parties focus on genuine issues, reduce costs and encourage settlement of the case.
Part 13 of the Family Court Rules outlines the duty of disclosure.
When parties are seeking property settlement, information is required to work out how the property will be divided following separation. Both parties must give each other documents that are in their possession.
The information required can be in electronic form or recorded on a paper document. This also includes other documents that the other party may not know about. In a property matter, this duty starts with the pre-action procedure before the case starts and continues until after the case is finished. The duty to give each other information about finances in ongoing. Part 13 of the Family Court Rules explains different aspects of the duty of disclosure to other parties and the Court. 
When an application for property or financial orders is made, a Form 13 Financial Statement must be filed. If your financial circumstances change after you file the Financial Statement, you will need to file and amended statement within 21 days of the change.
Below is a list of disclosure documents that are usually used in property matter.
- Income – Including employment, payslips and taxation returns and assessments;
- Motor Vehicles – including Redbook valuation certificated for all vehicles in the parties sole names, and vehicle loans;
- Bank Account – including statements held in the parties name from 12 months prior to separation;
- Credit Card – including statements held in the parties name from 12 months prior to separation;
- Disposal or purchase of assets;
- Family Trust – financial statements, 12 months of BAS statements and Trust Deeds; and
- Companies /Business – financial statements, 12 months of BAS and share ownership details.
There may be other documents that are required from time to time but that is dependent the specific issues in the matter.
In parenting matters, parties are required to make full and frank disclosure of all the information relevant to a parenting case. These documents vary depending on the issues in the matter. These include but are not limited to school reports, reports written about the child, letters, drawings by the child, diaries, and photographs.
Consequences of not disclosing documents
There are consequences for failure to disclose documents to the other party. If document are not disclosed, the Court can impose a range of penalties such as:
- A fine;
- Ordering payment of legal costs for the other party;
- Stopping proceedings until the information is provided;
- Refusing to hear the case;
- Not letting certain information or documents to be used as evidence in the case;
- In very serious cases, imprisonment.
Your duty of disclosure is an ongoing duty. It extends to separated parties when they are not in Court proceedings and so may apply to you without you realising it. If you would like some advice in relation to your duty of disclosure please do no hesitate to get in contact with one of our solicitors for some advice.
 Part 13 Family Court Rules.