What you need to know about splitting superannuation

The law treats superannuation as a different property type when separating couples face valuing and splitting their superannuation payments. 

While the splitting of this ‘property’ does not directly translate into a cash asset, it’s still covered under the Family Law Act and the applicable superannuation legislation. If you’re undergoing a separation or divorce from your partner, you should have a clear understanding of how this works.

There are a few different things to keep in mind in this realm of property settlement. So we’ve arranged for our Head of Family Law in Adelaide, Shelley O’Connell, to give you a rundown of how splitting superannuation in divorce or separation works.

Watch Shelley explain what you need to consider below, or continue reading below the video.

Valuing your superannuation 

To split your superannuation, you must first obtain valuation information. You can obtain this from your superannuation statement.  This may require a bit of administration work, and there are a few forms you may need to fill out. Moreover, when you send the forms, your superannuation fund may charge a fee for providing certain information. This will be paid to them when you fill out the forms.

Valuers can value superannuation in various ways as there are different types of superannuation. You can find these provisions in superannuation splitting legislation. Exceptions include the use of self-managed superannuation funds, which usually need an accountant to assess them or where the Attorney-General has approved a fund using an alternate valuation method.

How to split superannuation

There are various options in terms of how to go about doing this. You can:

  • Obtain a Consent Order filed in the Family Court
  • Create a Financial Agreement that requires both parties to obtain independent legal advice from their lawyers. This must be in a written agreement.
  • If you or your former partner cannot meet consent Orders or an agreement, you may need to obtain a court order to split superannuation. 

Informing your fund 

You must inform your superannuation fund when you seek court orders so they are aware of the situation.  This is generally referred to as providing ‘procedural fairness.’  Here, the trustee can consent to the Orders or attend a court hearing. In addition, the trustee has the option to object to raised orders, as the orders will bind the trustee of the superannuation fund.

Splitting superannuation in divorce or separation can be a very complex area. It is best to have a qualified family lawyer assist you in obtaining the relevant valuation information and draft the proposed Orders or Agreement. Likewise, contacting a family lawyer may help put your mind at ease as they help guide you through the process. Dealing with these issues can be daunting, and a professional can help alleviate your worries or concerns.

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