Accountants & Financial Planners

FAMILY LAW ESSENTIALS FOR ACCOUNTANTS AND FINANCIAL PLANNERS

We receive many enquiries from accountants and financial planners about the family law problems of their clients.

We summarise below the more common family law enquiries from financial professionals.

  • I have been served with a subpoena to produce documents – What do I do?

A subpoena is a court order requiring that the recipient produce documents to the court. Copies may be produced – and we recommend that you do so to avoid originals being lost. The subpoena will name a time and place for the production of documents. Do not produce them to the solicitor issuing the subpoena. You are not obliged to produce the documents to court unless you have received reasonable conduct money to cover costs of collating, copying, and transporting the documents to the court.

For further information on your rights and obligations pursuant to subpoenas, contact us to obtain a copy of a detailed seminar paper.

  • Are my client’s files privileged?

Accountants and financial planners cannot claim privilege over their client files merely because they are the client’s accountant or financial planner, or because there is some form of confidentiality agreement between the professional and their client. The professional may be entitled to object to producing the documents to court if it exposes them to self incrimination. The client may have grounds to object to their accountant or financial planner complying with the subpoena.

  • Self managed superannuation funds – What happens when the spouses separate?

In 2002, the Family Law Act was amended changing the way in which superannuation is dealt with when spouses separate and divorce. Superannuation of one spouse can now be split and part or all rolled-over to the other spouse as fully preserved superannuation. Superannuation splitting can apply to SMSFs. The new superannuation splitting legislation allows both spouses to benefit from tax benefits.

Contact us for our paper on superannuation splitting for more a detailed analysis.

  • Can the Family Court make orders binding on the business entity?

Historically, the powers of the Family Court have been limited to only make orders binding upon the actual spouses. Since 2004, however, the powers of the Family Court have been extended. The Court can now make orders binding on third parties including companies, trusts, partnerships or other business entities of the separating spouses. These extended powers can affect third parties such as other business partners or creditors. It is therefore important for business partners to consider the impact of relationship breakdown on the overall business structure. In some circumstances, it may be appropriate for third parties (either the business entity or business partners) to become involved in negotiations or court proceedings.

We receive many enquiries from accountants and financial planners about the family law problems of their clients.

We summarise here the more common family law enquiries from financial professionals.

 

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