When dealing with financial statements in family law cases, both lawyers and clients have specific obligations to ensure accurate and fair representation of financial circumstances.
Lawyers are bound by their duty to act in the best interests of their clients, uphold their paramount duty to the court, and follow the Solicitor’s Conduct Rules and Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia Rules. These rules emphasize the importance of not misleading the court, making false statements, or being a mere mouthpiece for the client.
Clients, on the other hand, must provide full and frank disclosure of all relevant financial information as required by the court rules. This ongoing duty starts from the pre-action procedure and continues until the case is finalized. The court may impose penalties if clients knowingly provide false or misleading information or breach disclosure requirements.
In family law proceedings, both parties are generally expected to bear their own costs. However, the court may consider factors such as non-disclosure when determining whether to award costs against one party. If a party fails to disclose relevant information or engages in deliberate non-disclosure, the court may draw adverse inferences, ascribe a value to non-disclosed assets, or adjust the distribution of assets in favour of the other party to ensure a just and equitable outcome.
If a party discovers that the other party failed to provide full financial disclosure after the conclusion of proceedings, they may apply to set aside the final court orders or financial agreement on the grounds of fraud, duress, suppression of evidence, or other circumstances resulting in a miscarriage of justice.