August 24, 2022

Super Secret Super


From 1 April 2022, parties to a Family Law property proceeding can now request superannuation information of their current or former spouse or de facto partner through the Family Law courts.

This change is aimed to address the issue of parties failing to disclose not only their super balances, but also the name of the funds in which they hold their super. The failure of a party to disclose their assets, of which superannuation is often a significant portion, results in higher costs, time and stress for parties involved.

Prior to this change, parties were only able to request superannuation information directly from their (ex-)partner’s super fund. However, parties faced roadblocks to obtain super information if the name of their ex-partner’s super funds were not known. A common situation is where an ex-partner hid super across multiple super funds and did not disclose all of their interests.

This is a welcome change which is expected to produce fairer and faster resolutions to property cases. Indeed, in the 4 to 5 months since this change, our lawyers have made use of this avenue regularly to obtain superannuation information of client’s ex-spouse. This has allowed clients to feel more confident that a complete snapshot of their ex-spouse’s superannuation is provided to the Court in property proceedings and in turn, placing them in a better position to obtain a fair outcome.

How to apply

The Federal Circuit and Family Court (FCFCOA) has made the process of requesting superannuation information very accessible. The applicant / their lawyer simply needs to provide basic details of the party whose superannuation information they seek in the online Comcourts Portal and the ATO will provide a response to the request within 7 days. The applicant must be a party to a current property proceeding to make the request.

A complex area

Separating parties should still be aware however, that dealing with superannuation still remains a complex area of family law. Superannuation information requests made directly to the super funds may still be needed especially given the information provided by the ATO may not be the most up-to-date. A direct request is also usually required where a defined benefits super interest is involved, so that the interest can be professionally valued and split fairly.

Besides the “regular” super funds (industry/retail/employer etc.), there are now close to 600,000 self-managed superannuation funds (SMSF) which make up 25% of all super assets. While information on SMSFs can also be obtained via the new ATO request pathway, SMSFs need to be dealt with very carefully in property settlements. This is especially given the many tax and compliance pitfalls inherent in operating, splitting, or winding up SMSFs.

If you require assistance with your property settlement, including dealing with the complex area of superannuation, we have some of the best family lawyers in Doncaster and the Eastern suburbs who can help. Please contact us on 0421 397 316 or to find out more.

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