One area of family law in which there tends to be a lot of misunderstanding is the effect of new partners on a person’s child support and spousal support oblgations. That is, if you start living with someone else, will that affect how much child or spousal support you must pay? Today, I’ll just deal with one small part of that, namely what sort of disclosure must you give about your new partner’s income?
Cynically, I suppose the answer is nothing. You can just claim that you don’t know what your new partner’s financial situation is. In that case however, you’re risking two things.
First, if your new partner’s financial situation remains undisclosed, then a judge is likely to make a negative inference about this. For instance, if you are claiming undue hardship, the judge may assume that there is no undue hardship because of your new partner’s income.
Second, you risk dragging your new partner into the legal proceedings. Your ex may be more than happy to serve motion materials on your new partner asking for this financial disclosure directly.
So what should you disclose? It really depends on what your case is about. But at a bare minimum, you’ll normally be required to produce information about your new partner’s place of employment, earnings and contribution to household expenses. This is what is required by the family law rules in cases where support is in issue.
As support for these figures, your new partner may be required to produce complete income tax returns and notices of assessment for the last 3 years.
There have been a few cases where more detailed financial disclosure has been required of new partners, and even cases where a new partner has been cross-examined under oath regarding their financial situation. However, these are generally more complex cases and you’ll need to consult with a lawyer about further financial disclosure.
The general rule in family law is that almost anything that’s relevant needs to be disclosed – and judges tend to interpret disclosure requirements quite broadly. Of course if your ex is just on a fishing expedition, you’ll want to defend against that vigorously.