A recent article in the UK highlighted two women who had their property settlements re-examined due to the fact that their ex-Husbands’ had allegedly mislead the Judge as to what they were worth.
I found it a bit hard to fathom as to why the article gained such publicity when here in Australia we have specific laws that do protect people from non-disclosure or fraud in any property settlement.
If you go to trial or have a settlement reached with the other party and as part of that settlement you do not disclose substantial assets that would make a material difference to the outcome (if you had disclosed it) then you run the risk of that settlement being set aside on Application in the future by the other party.
It is often not an easy thing to do and there is no guarantee that the settlement can be set aside just because you show that there was some form of non-disclosure. The Court always has a discretion as to whether a miscarriage of justice has occurred or not and the particular facts of each case will influence that discretion.
The lesson from all of this is that if you are doing a property settlement (even by Consent) then it is extremely important to make a full and frank disclosure of all of your financial affairs. This includes not only your direct legal interests in property but also any resources or contingent interests that you may have. It is best that you make that disclosure to the other party prior to the financial settlement being signed.