Superannuation could be your most significant divorce asset in ACT

Superannuation could be your most significant divorce asset in ACT

By Courtney Mullen, Head of Family Law at Australian Family Lawyers, Canberra

Without a doubt, superannuation savings are a significant part of any property settlement when filing for divorce, but in Canberra, you might be surprised to hear that your super could be one of your biggest nest-eggs after the family home.

Wages tend to be higher here and with many public servants under generous super schemes it makes sense that residents have one of the highest average superannuation balances per household (ASFA Research and Resource Centre, 2017).

As family law experts, we are finding that the super split is quite often the centre of property settlement and divorce disputes here in Canberra.

Another factor that comes into play in the ACT is the on-going ‘pension for life’ schemes that used to accompany government and military service prior to 2005 and 2016 respectively. Pensions can be treated as a lump sum rather than income and can be included in a settlement.

Many people are also surprised to learn there are time limits on property settlements – you only have a year from the date your divorce was finalised to file an application to settle your financial situation.

Another trap is thinking that you can divorce straight away but you have to be separated for 12 months before you can officially start the legal proceeding that lets you tear up your marriage certificate.

It is important to note that you can start separating and splitting assets and organising parenting orders and child support/spousal maintenance the minute you separate, you don’t have to wait until the divorce is final.

If you miss the deadline for a property settlement – you can apply to court if you are out of time but it’s only granted under certain circumstances so best to sort this out as soon as possible.

All marriages are treated the same way, so under the law changes same-sex married couples have the same time limits and requirements.

Superannuation and divorce can be complex and emotionally charged which means getting good advice on your rights to entitlements early is even more important when considerable retirement funds are potentially at risk.

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