Is superannuation considered an asset in a separation?

Going through a divorce or separation can be difficult, especially if it’s with a long-term partner. Employing the services of a skilled family lawyer can help make the process easier, but it’s worth thinking carefully about exactly what’s going to happen to your assets when you separate.

Some assets are easy to split. Things like jointly owned properties, family cars and joint bank accounts usually belong to both partners and will be split accordingly. However, things like superannuation are often overlooked.

In this article we’ll have a quick look at how your super will be split in the event of a separation. Does it belong to you, or should you be prepared to share it?

Will My Super Be Split When I Separate?

One of the most common questions that we get asked is whether or not someone is going to have to share their superannuation savings with their former partner in the event of a divorce or separation. There isn’t a simple answer – it really depends on your situation.

In some cases, super can be divided between two former partners, while in others it won’t be. There are four things that you can do or be forced to do, including:

  1. Splitting the super amicably – In the event of any separation or divorce you and your ex-partner can work towards an agreement. You might decide to separate things evenly to keep it simple and fair, or you might decide that one partner deserves a larger percentage than the other. If you’re not sure about this process then you should consider speaking to a family lawyer.
  2. Splitting the super by court order – If you can’t come to a friendly agreement about who gets how much super you can take the matter to the courts. They will take everything into consideration and split it based on your personal circumstances.
  3. Deferring the decision – Although rare, it’s also possible to put off the decision until a later date. This date is often retirement, but couples need to be aware that they have to agree on a separation before any super can be paid to either of the former partners.
  4. Leave super accounts untouched – To former partners can also decide to divide their assets without splitting their super. In some cases, this might mean that one partner receives a larger share of the other assets, while in other cases the super accounts will simply be ignored.

How Will The Courts Separate My Super?

If you take the matter to court then a judge will decide how to separate your super. This is definitely the most expensive option, and will require the services of a decent family lawyer. The court will take into account your personal circumstances, how much each partner contributed to the relationship and how much of the super existed before the relationship started – among other things.

Final Word

If you’re going through a separation then you should definitely speak to a family lawyer about splitting your assets. Splitting superannuation can be hard for everyone, and it’s worth exploring your options to make sure that you do it fairly and within the boundaries of the law.