Now you can see it – Improved visibility of superannuation in family law property settlement proceedings

29 September 2021

If you are involved in property settlement proceedings in either the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia or the Family Court of Western Australia, you will soon be able to apply for better information regarding your former partner’s superannuation interests.

Set to start on 1 April 2022, the amendments to both family law and taxation legislation, will allow separating couples to ask the Court Registry to obtain information from the Commissioner for Taxation about their former partner’s superannuation. To be eligible, you’ll first need to be involved in property settlement proceedings in the Court. Under the new arrangements, it will be more difficult for parties to hide or under-disclose assets in superannuation which ought otherwise be available for division as part of any property settlement after the breakdown of the relationship.

At the moment, finding superannuation information requires either full transparency by each party, or having sufficient evidence to engage in the costly process of issuing a subpoena to a superannuation fund (which may not even be possible if the specific superannuation fund is not known).

This is of particular concern in circumstances where superannuation is the most valuable asset, and / or where one party may have been primarily responsible for raising children such that there is a significant disparity in superannuation interests held by each party.

When a request is made to the Court Registry this is forwarded to the Commissioner for Taxation who will provide the following information:

  1. The identity and value of each superannuation interest held by your former partner, as reported to the Commissioner;
  2. The identity and value of any other superannuation accounts in your former partner’s name, which even they may not be aware of; and
  3. Any amount payable to your former partner under any scheme by which the Government offers assistance, for example, to low-income earners.

This information is protected and transmitted through a secure, online portal between the Commissioner for Taxation and the Court. You can use the details you receive from the Commissioner for Taxation to contact your former partner’s superannuation fund and ask for up-to-date information.

Once implemented, these amendments will help to streamline the disclosure process in property settlement proceedings enabling you and your former partner to resolve your matter more quickly and cost effectively.

If you would like assistance understanding your rights and responsibilities, we invite you to get in touch with our family law team.

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