28 June 2023
Super can be one of your most valuable assets. Like other assets – such as the family home, valuables, and investments – couples may split their super if they separate or divorce.
The breakdown of a marriage or de facto relationship can be an emotional time. They are big decisions you need to make regarding your assets and finances, including super. While it may be the last thing on your mind, it’s important to understand the impact separation or divorce can have on your retirement savings.
What are your best first steps?
The end of a relationship doesn’t have to mean the end of your financial plans. But you may need to develop a new approach. It might take some time to adjust to your situation. There are a few important things you can do to stay on track.
Assess your financial situation
If you’re relationship breaks down, take a good look at your financial position. Consider this first phase an information-gathering exercise to help you understand your financial assets and debts.
To get a clear picture of your financial situation:
- Find copies of your bills
- Make sure you have access to your bank accounts and financial statements
- Know your super balance and fund details.
This is important because your partner has the right to request information about your super from your super fund. If you've agreed to split your super, or you’re required to by court order, your partner will be asked where their part of your super should be paid.
Know your partner’s super balance
Super is often a forgotten asset when it comes to financial settlements during separation or divorce. This is because one partner doesn’t know how much super the other person has. To understand what a fair settlement may be, it’s important to know how much is in your partner’s super account.
You’re entitled to ask your partner’s super fund to provide this information. AustralianSuper members can request this by filling out a family law information form. Alternatively, you can use the form from the Family Court of Australia. You can also visit your nearest family law registry which may involve a fee.
Seek expert financial advice
Making important financial decisions can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re separating or going through a divorce. A financial adviser can provide the knowledge and guidance you need to feel more confident about your choices.
Financial advisers are professionals familiar with super and investment issues. They can help you:
- Understand what to expect once you’ve agreed on splitting your assets (including super).
- Decide what to do about your super contributions going forward – as you may need to adjust to a change in income.
- Choose how to invest your part of any super payment made.
AustralianSuper members have access to financial advice1 on a fee-for-service basis. You can find an adviser online or call us on 1300 300 273 (8am to 8pm weekdays) to make an appointment with an adviser near you.
Get legal help
It may be best to seek legal advice before deciding what to do next. A lawyer can help you understand your rights, responsibilities and how the law applies to your case. They may be able to help you reach an agreement with your former partner without having to go to court. A mediator may assist with negotiations in tricky situations.
Even if you don't need to go to court, certain parts of the super splitting process requires you to declare you’ve received independent legal advice. AustralianSuper can’t split a separating couple’s super unless it receives confirmation of this – or an order from the court.
If you need support, there are community legal centres and Legal Aid services in every state and territory that offer free legal advice.
What happens once a decision is reached?
Once a valid agreement has been made, or a court order is in place, you’re able to submit your super splitting request.
If you’re receiving any of your partner’s super as a result of the agreement or court order, you can choose to transfer it to an existing super account or a new super account. You can also take the super as cash if you’re eligible for a cash payment. Keep in mind that you can’t take super as cash, unless you’ve reached age 65 or met a condition of release.
1. Personal financial product advice is provided under the Australian Financial Services Licence held by a third party and not by AustralianSuper Pty Ltd. Some personal advice may attract a fee, which would be outlined before any work is completed and is subject to your agreement. With your approval, the fee for advice relating to your AustralianSuper account may be deducted from your AustralianSuper account subject to eligibility criteria.
This may include general financial advice which doesn’t take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making a decision consider if the information is right for you and read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement, available at australiansuper.com/pds or by calling 1300 300 273. A Target Market Determination (TMD) is a document that outlines the target market a product has been designed for. Find the TMDs at australiansuper.com/TMD.
AustralianSuper Pty Ltd ABN 94 006 457 987, AFSL 233788, Trustee of AustralianSuper ABN 65 714 394 898.