In any proceedings for financial settlement whether you are asking a Court to make an order for you, you are participating in an alternate dispute resolution process or you are trying to reach an amicable agreement between you and your ex, there is an obligation on each party to make full and continuing disclosure of their financial circumstances. You will often hear lawyers refer to this as “full and frank financial disclosure”. This means that each party is required to provide all information and documents in their control or possession that evidences their financial position and net worth and supports their financial position.
This includes, but is not limited to documents and information in relation to your:
Personal or business income
Pension or superannuation funds
Financial resources including child support, trusts or other payments
Vehicles and watercraft
Winnings, inheritances, compensation, payouts or claims
Other assets in your control or possession
Debts and liabilities
Documents you need to provide
Whilst the list is not exhaustive and you must provide documents relevant to your financial circumstances, Rule 24.04 of the Federal Circuit Court Rules (FCCR) provides a list of documents that are required to be exchanged. These are –
- the party’s three most recent taxation returns and assessments
- documents about any relevant superannuation interest, including:
- the completed Superannuation Information Form (also known as Form 6).
- for a self-managed superannuation fund, the trust deed and the last three financial statements.
- the value of the superannuation interest, including how the value has been calculated and any documents working out the value.
- for a corporation (business), trust or partnership where the party has a duty of disclosure under Rule 13.04 of the FCCR:
- financial statements for each (including balance sheets, profit and loss accounts, depreciation schedules and taxation returns) for the three last financial years
- for the party or a corporation (business), trust or partnership where the party has a duty of disclosure under Rule 13.04 of the FCCR:
- any Business Activity Statements for the 12 months ending immediately before the first court date
- for any corporation, its most recent annual return, listing directors and shareholders; and the corporation’s constitution
- for any trust, the trust deed
- for any partnership, the partnership agreement, including amendments, and
- unless the value is agreed, a market appraisal of any item of property in which a party has an interest,
- bank statements for any bank account that a party has an interest in for the last 3 years,
- particulars of any gift or other disposition of property since separation,
- particulars of any gift or other disposal of property for the 12 months prior to separation and up to the date of negotiations,
- any other document relating to any other asset that provides evidence of ownership and control.
Let's get organised
Now that you know you are going to be asked to gather these documents and/or information I would suggest that you make a start on collating the documents as this task can be time consuming and feel overwhelming. I’m a huge fan of being organised when it comes to your paperwork. The family court (even if you aren’t actually going to Court) is often referred to as the paper court as there is so much paperwork.
Let’s get you organised and it doing so you will feel calmer, empowered, well informed and you will save yourself $1000’s in legal fees.
My suggestions –
- Baby steps. Break down the task by allocating a block of time each day or week to start to gather the documents. Diarise this time – for me if it’s not in my diary it does not get done, no matter how good my intentions are.
- Buy the following from your stationery store, kmart or wherever you buy your office supplies – an A4 folder, dividers, plastic sleeves (for original documents).
- Write a list of all your assets, liabilities, financial resources and superannuation policies.
- Start to collate the documents relating to each item on your list.
- Label your folder dividers with headings relating to each major item. For example –
If you have more that one asset/liabilities in these categories give each a subheading. For example you may have three bank accounts – give each of these accounts a subheading using the account number.
- Then start adding your documents/evidence under its named divider. For example all documents relating to you real estate is filed under the real estate tab.
- Once you have all you documents in your folder it’s time to type up your list of documents. This list will sit at the front of your folder so that you can add to it if you need to.
Voila you are done – congratulations.