Superannuation

Superannuation is money put aside from wages into a superannuation fund that generally cannot be touched until retirement. Superannuation will usually form a significant portion of the pool of property to be divided after separation.

Before you can include superannuation in a property settlement, you will need to find out what superannuation funds you and your ex-partner have, and the value of those funds. 

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This information will help you understand:

  •  the different types of superannuation funds there are
  •  how you can find out the value of an accumulation fund, and
  •  how you can find out the value of a defined benefit fund. 

What types of superannuation funds are there? 

There are two types of superannuation funds:

  • Accumulation fund: where the money your employer has put in the fund grows over time (this is the most common type of superannuation fund), and
  • Defined benefit fund: where the amount of money you will receive when you retire is worked out using a formula (this type of fund is mainly found in the public service and is not common).

A separate type of fund is a self-managed super fund. These are similiar to a trust and are complex. You should seek specific legal advice about how these funds work and how they are valued.

If you are not sure which kind of superannuation fund you have, contact the superannuation fund and they will be able to tell you.

How can I find out the value of my accumulation fund?

To find out the value of an accumulation fund, you can start by logging into your online Australian Taxation Office (ATO) account on the myGov website. 

You can find out the following information from your online ATO account:

  • the names of your superannuation funds
  • your member number for each of your superannuation funds
  • the account balance, and
  • the date your superannuation funds were last valued. 

Another way to find out the value of your superannuation is by looking at the most recent statement. Most superannuation funds will provide you with an annual statement at 30 June and a mid-year statement in December. 

How can I find out the value of my defined benefit fund?

Defined benefit funds are valued differently to accumulation funds. For defined benefit funds you will need to find out the 'family law value' of the fund. The family law value is found by using a specific calculation.

The first step to finding out the family law value of a defined benefit fund is to get information from your online ATO account on the myGov website or by looking at your most recent statement. 

You can then use the Family Court of WA Superannuation Information Kit to find out more information.

The Kit includes the following:

  • Superannuation Information Request Form (you will need to fill out this form)
  • Form 6 Declaration (you will need to fill out this form), and
  • Superannuation Information Form (the superannuation fund will complete this form and return it to you). 

The superannuation fund may charge a fee for providing the above information. It is a good idea to contact the superannuation fund to find out what the cost is.

Once you receive the Superannuation Information Form from the superannuation fund, if the family law value is not clear (for example, if they have given two or more possible values) you may need to obtain a sworn valuation.

Sworn valuations

To obtain a sworn valuation you will need to hire a forensic accountant. A forensic accountant is an expert who is highly qualified in valuing superannuation. It is a good idea to use an expert who is accredited through Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

The expert will give their opinion in writing and 'swears' that the valuation is independent and authentic. This is called a sworn valuation. 

The fee for a sworn valuation will change from expert to expert. You should make enquiries with a few experts to find out their costs. It is common for people to share the costs of a sworn valuation. 

How can I find out information about my ex-partner's superannuation? 

The law requires separating couples who are going through a property settlement to share information about their property and finances, which includes information about your superannuation. This is known as the 'duty of disclosure'

Can superannuation be divided? 

In Western Australia, superannuation is currently treated differently depending on whether you were married or in a de facto relationship. If you were married superannuation can be split after separation (this means divided). If you were in a de facto relationship superannuation cannot be split (this means it cannot be divided). 

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT CHANGES TO THE LAW

The laws in Western Australia about how superannuation is treated for separating de facto couples are changing. The changes, which have not yet come into effect, will mean that both married and de facto couples will be able to split superannuation as part of a property settlement. This website will be updated when the changes come into effect. 

If you are going through a property settlement it is recommended you seek legal advice about how these changes may impact upon you. 

 

Reviewed: 26 February 2021

Disclaimer

The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.