Do I need to disclose my new partner’s financial circumstances during family law proceedings?

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By Danielle Borg, Associate

I often get asked by clients when they have re-partnered whether it will impact their property settlement with their former spouse/partner and if they need to disclose their new partner’s financial circumstances. In the case of Pates & Pates [2018] FamCAFC 171, the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia found that there is no general obligation for partners to provide full and frank disclosure of their domestic partner’s financial circumstances. There is, however, information that must be disclosed.

Parties in family law property proceedings are required to file and serve a Financial Statement. This document requires a party to disclose information about other members of their household, including their:

  • full name and age;
  • relationship to the party; and
  • average weekly amount of income.

If a party is cohabitating with their new partner, the above information will need to be included in the Financial Statement. This document also requires a party to disclose all expenses they are paying for their partner and all expenses their partner is paying for them.

So why does this information need to be disclosed? When considering whether property adjustment orders are just and equitable, the Court will consider each party’s future needs. In accordance with Section 75(2) of the Family Law Act 1975 (or section 90SF(3)(m) for de facto relationships), the Court must consider “if either party is cohabitating with another person –  the financial circumstances relating to the cohabitation”.

If a new partner is contributing towards living expenses, for example paying for half of the rent, then the Court may consider that party’s future needs to be less as these expenses are being shared or paid by the new partner.

If, however, a party wishes to have their new partner’s financial circumstances taken into consideration during proceedings, as they are required to continue supporting them, then it is imperative that supporting evidence is provided to the Court.

There is a great degree of discretion that can be exercised by a Judge when determining the financial circumstances of a new partner. The Court will have to consider the facts of each case separately.

If you wish to seek advice in relation to disclosing your new partner’s assets, or your family law matter generally, please do not hesitate to contact us on 02 8289 5800 or email [email protected] and [email protected].

For further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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