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Do I Need to Disclose That?

Navigating through family law matters can often feel like walking through a maze, with each turn presenting a new set of challenges and questions. Among the most frequent and significant questions is, “Do I need to disclose that?” This is particularly pertinent in family law proceedings in Australia, where the law mandates comprehensive and honest disclosure to ensure fair and equitable outcomes. 

But what does this mean for you, and how can you navigate these requirements effectively? Think of it not as a game of ‘hide and seek’ but more like ‘show and tell’.

Understanding the Requirement of Disclosure in Family Law:

In family law proceedings, disclosure is not a game of hide and seek with your assets and financial information. Instead, it’s a process of show and tell— a cornerstone principle that involves presenting all relevant information concerning your financial circumstances. This ensures that all parties have a clear and honest understanding of the financial pool available for division.

The Importance of Accurate Disclosure:

Proper disclosure is the foundation upon which accurate and appropriate advice is built. By fully disclosing all relevant financial details, you empower your legal team to provide advice that is tailored to your situation. This allows your lawyers to strategise effectively, anticipate potential issues, and navigate negotiations or court proceedings with a clear picture, thereby increasing the likelihood of a favourable outcome.

What Must Be Disclosed?

The requirement for disclosure in family law is comprehensive. You are obliged to disclose all forms of income, assets, and debts. This includes, but is not limited to, property holdings, bank accounts, investments, and even financial interests in trusts or companies. It’s not just your current financial state that’s under scrutiny; any significant financial transactions made in the lead-up to the proceedings must also be disclosed, particularly if they could be perceived as an attempt to minimise the financial pool available for division.  

The Consequences of Incomplete Disclosure

Failing to disclose assets or providing misleading information is not taken lightly in the eyes of the law. Such actions can lead to severe legal repercussions, including the alteration of property division in favour of the other party, hefty fines, and, in extreme cases, criminal charges. The courts are equipped with extensive powers to deal with non-disclosure, and they are unafraid to exercise these powers to uphold the integrity of the legal process.


There are some exceptions where disclosure may apply.  This can include cases where jurisdiction is disputed, such as where one party alleges a de facto relationship and the other does not; the process of disclosure can become more complex. This situation often arises when there’s a disagreement over whether the relationship falls under the Family Law Act. If there is no de facto relationship, then the Family Law Act will not apply, nor will the disclosure requirements.  However, it may be necessary to provide evidence not just of your financial situation but also of the nature and extent of your relationship. This evidence can range from shared financial responsibilities (or, more correctly, the lack of if you are disputing a relationship) to the intermingling of lives and future intentions. It’s crucial to approach these situations with a strategy tailored to the specific circumstances of your case, often necessitating professional legal advice.

How to Navigate the Disclosure Process:

Navigating the disclosure process can be complex and daunting. It’s not just about being honest; it’s also about being thorough and meticulous. Keeping detailed records, being proactive in providing information, and, most importantly, seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable legal professional are critical steps in ensuring that you meet your disclosure obligations effectively. Remember, it’s about ‘show and tell’, being open and transparent, not ‘hide and seek’.


In family law proceedings, the question “Do I need to disclose that?” bears significant weight. The requirement for full and honest disclosure is a testament to the legal system’s commitment to fairness and justice. Proper disclosure not only contributes to a more transparent legal process but also ensures that the legal advice you receive is as accurate and appropriate as possible, safeguarding your interests and paving the way for a fair resolution. 


Please note that this article is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as specific legal advice. Family law can be intricate and complex, and the requirements for disclosure can vary significantly based on individual circumstances, including disputed jurisdictions such as contested de facto relationships. We strongly advise consulting a family lawyer who can provide tailored advice and guidance based on your unique situation.