Family Law disputes can give rise to a plethora of issues, one commonly being that one party feels that the other party is not being honest when it comes to disclosing their financial circumstances.
Let’s look at the following example:
Bob and Jo separated 12 months ago.
Six months ago Jo decided to issue court proceedings for property settlement after negotiations between Bob and Jo broke down.
There is a Court Order in place stating that each party must make mutual informal disclosure to each other within a period of 28 days.
When Jo receives Bob’s disclosure she becomes concerned. She distinctly remembers that during their relationship Bob had a Commonwealth Bank account. There are no documents provided by Bob that have disclosed a Commonwealth Bank account.
Jo asks her solicitor to request information from Bob’s solicitor about the Commonwealth Bank account.
Bob’s solicitor responds and states that Bob instructs that he has never had a Commonwealth Bank account.
Jo can remember seeing Commonwealth Bank statements in Bob’s name in the letterbox during their relationship.
What can Jo do to confirm whether or not Bob has ever held an account with the Commonwealth Bank?
In light of Bob not disclosing his entire financial status, the most sensible course of action would be to issue a subpoena to the Commonwealth Bank.
In Family Law proceedings a subpoena is a document which requires the production of information and evidence from an individual or an organisation. In Jo’s case it would be appropriate to seek any and all records of past or present bank accounts held in Bob’s name with the Commonwealth Bank.
Unfortunately some litigants in Family Law feel that they can ignore the disclosure rules by not supplying all of their relevant financial information. Often this is because that party intends to hide money or assets in an attempt to prevent such assets being included in the asset pool for division.
Rest assured there are ways and means where the Court can circumvent such dishonest behaviour and obtain potentially missing or incomplete information, with subpoenas being one of the various ways.
If the party who withheld information is found by the Court to have deliberately withheld that information, significant penalties such as costs orders can apply.