divorce and your super

life

We look at why you need to consider your super if you’re separating or going through a divorce.

 

No one enters into a marriage thinking that it will fail. But fail they do. In 2019, almost 50,000 couples were granted divorces in Australia.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has also taken its toll on relationships. A study on the impacts of COVID-19 by Relationships Australia found that 55% of people felt challenged by their living arrangements.

On top of that, 42% of people had experienced a negative change in their relationship with their partner due to the effects of the coronavirus lockdowns.

 

The sobering super stats for women

Women who have taken on the bulk of caring responsibilities and time out of the workforce can often have significantly less super than their partners. That’s why, next to your house or other investments like shares, super is something that really needs to be considered during the separation process.

The superannuation gap between men and women begins to widen when many women are in their 30s – a woman’s peak childbearing and childrearing years. By the age of 40, men can have up to double the amount of superannuation as women.

Australian women currently retire with at least 37% less superannuation than Australian men. And Australian women over the age of 55 are now the fastest growing homeless group in Australia.

 

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Best case scenario, an amicable decision on how much each person gets will be reached. If not, a court order to split the super might be necessary.

 

How is super divided during divorce or separation?

When couples separate, super can typically be split as part of joint property.

Best case scenario, an amicable decision on how much each person gets will be reached. If not, a court order to split the super might be necessary.

Splitting super is the most common way that couples manage their super assets during divorce or separation. Super splitting typically follows these steps:

  1. Find out how much super is in your former partner’s super account or accounts. You are entitled to ask their super fund (or funds) for this information, which you can get by completing a request form available from the Family Court of Australia.

  2. Reach an agreement with your partner then seek a Consent Order from the court (it’s a good idea to get legal advice), or if you can’t agree, then apply for a court order. There are a number of factors that may be taken into account when determining how super will be split, including non-financial contributions to the relationship such as taking care of children. A court may also consider the financial position each of you will be in after the divorce or separation.

  3. Send a copy of the Consent Order or court order to the super fund or funds.
 
Image of woman thinking

 

Making super fair

For many women superannuation is the only asset they can claim from their former partner, yet many walk away from accessing it because dividing super assets through the family law system can be complex. It also often requires legal advice, which can be costly.

This can result in many women, especially those from low-income households or who are most vulnerable, simply walking away from their rightful share of super assets. This can mean losing their only income in retirement beyond the Age Pension.

HESTA is working with Women’s Legal Service Victoria and Women in Super on the Simpler Super Splitting initiative. The initiative aims to eliminate the need for legal advice for the straightforward division of super assets, via a simple, consistent form for court orders that can be used across the industry and by the courts.

 

Do you need to start a conversation about your super?

HESTA Super Specialists can provide advice about your super at no extra cost. It’s all part of the service for HESTA members.

 

This information is of a general nature. It contains H.E.S.T. Australia Ltd’s interpretation of the law but should not be relied upon as advice.

 

Make a time to speak with an expert

Our team can help you with any and every part of your super.

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