What Could Happen If A Party Does Not Comply Or Ignore The Fundamental Principles Set Out In The Family Law Act?
Q: WHAT COULD HAPPEN IF A PARTY DOES NOT COMPLY OR IGNORE THE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES SET OUT IN THE FAMILY LAW ACT?
This creates a great deal of financial and emotional stress for all parties concerned. For example in a matter we are dealing with the parties had agreed to mediation to resolve the financial difficulties arising from the break down in their marriage. The mediator and the sharing of the Mediator’s fees had been agreed upon by both parties. A date was even appointed for this mediation.
However, there is a requirement laid down by the legislation that full and proper disclosure of all relevant financial documents must be made by each party. Such disclosure is essential if a mediation is to take place.
Despite numerous requests by our client, the husband, the wife refused to make such disclosure. There were allegations that the wife lived an elaborate lifestyle and enjoyed many and varied overseas holidays. She admitted that she was engaged as a nurse at 3 hospitals and did earn a substantial income. She was reluctant to disclose the details of the income she received and as later discovered had not submitted her income tax returns for many years.
The numerous letters exchanged between the parties solicitors added to the legal costs for both parties.
The mediation fell over. Time periods for filing applications into Court came into play and it was necessary for our client to file an application in the Family Court seeking orders for property settlement to reserve the rights of the parties to bring such application. These proceedings were filed and served. An order was sought for the wife, the Respondent to the proceedings, to make full disclosure of her financial documents within a period of 14 days.
As well the wife had ignored the Family Court jurisdiction and did not file her necessary Court documents in response to our client’s application. Orders were made for her to do so within a period of 7 days.
The costs incurred by both parties were increased as a result of the wife’s non-compliance.
Needless to say, the wife did not file her court documents nor make disclosure of her financial documents as ordered.
A further application was required for the wife to comply with the previous orders. Our client sought an order for the wife to pay his costs for this application. Such order was made by the Court. We are presently awaiting her compliance with these orders.
What happens next?
Eventually, orders will be made in her absence if she fails to comply with the Court orders and further costs will be awarded against her which costs will be paid out of any settlement she may receive. She will be the loser in the end.
These are some of the frustrations that lawyers incur in family-related matters.