Locating hidden or unknown assets
Each party has a duty of disclosure.
Where a party refuses to disclose, it usually is because they are hiding something. If there was nothing to hide then a party would likely be forthcoming in the disclosure process.
Thus, where there is a refusal to disclose, we will normally undertake an investigation. For example:
- Conducting various searches, such as title searches, ASIC name and/or company searches, and PPSR searches.
- If proceedings have been commenced, the following can be issued:
- A subpoena can be issued for the production of bank statements, mortgage and loan applications, credit card statements and applications, financial statements from accountants, etc.;
- A notice to admit facts can be issued, requesting that your former partner admit a set of facts;
- A notice to produce can be issued, requesting that particular documents be provided; and
- Specific Questions can be put to the other side, with a requirement that they be answered in a sworn affidavit.
- A forensic accountant can be retained to look at the financial documents and ascertain whether there are unusual dealings that might infer the existence of undisclosed assets. For example, in ‘big money’ cases, a complicated web of companies, corporate trustees, trusts, SMSF’s and offshore bank accounts.
- A private investigator can be retained to ascertain how your former partner conducts their business and/or spends their money.
Uncovering undisclosed assets is an expensive exercise. The court also does not look favourably on people who merely go on a fishing expedition to frustrate the process. Any belief that you might have that assets are being concealed to detriment your entitlement should therefore be reasonable.
If you have an ongoing suspicion that your former partner has not complied with their duty of disclosure, and they might be concealing or hiding assets, please contact our family law department for more comprehensive advice tailored to your matter.