John Patterson, Solicitor and Kiara Greenway, Paralegal
When we think of a relationship breakdown, most of us immediately think of the division of the tangible, big ticket items. Those items that we can see, or at least have some form of interaction with on a regular basis like the house, the car, the bank accounts, the furniture and everything in between.
What can come as something of a shock however, is that under the Family Law Act 1975, superannuation can also be utilised to effect an appropriate property settlement between parties, including by ‘splitting’ the superannuation entitlements of one or more of the parties.
There are four key steps when it comes to a ‘super split’:
- Obtain an official family law valuation of the superannuation interests. Parties are required to lodge a ‘Form 6’ or a Superannuation Information Request Form with their respective superannuation funds. This can sometimes incur a fee – each superannuation fund is different. Military Benefits Superannuation Scheme Funds (“MBSS”) and Defence Force Retirement & Death Benefit Scheme Funds (“DFRDB”) can differ significantly from more common retail entitlements and require a specialist valuation to be undertaken by a qualified specialist (such as a forensic accountant). A specialist valuation is undertaken to ensure that a party is not disadvantaged by the complexity associated with these entitlements.
- Once the parties agree in respect of the super split, or an Order is otherwise proposed to be made by the Court, confirmation must be sought from the Trustee of the fund that the fund does not object to the proposed Orders. The Trustee has 28 days to provide a response.
- Following confirmation from the Trustee that the fund does not object to the Orders, the Orders can be made by the Court.
- Upon receipt of the sealed Orders, the Trustee must be formally served with a copy of the Orders, along with a notice prescribed by the legislation, in order to effect the super split.
Best Wilson Buckley Family Law can provide advice in respect of all areas of family law, including in relation to the role superannuation plays in a family law context. Should you require any assistance or further information in relation to the division of a superannuation interest by way of property settlement, do not hesitate to contact our team today on 3812 1392.