Regulation, Superannuation

Super details accessible for separated couples

superannuation separated couples

An amendment bill before parliament will allow separated couples to access their former partner’s superannuation account details in an effort to alleviate financial hardship.

An amendment bill has been introduced into parliament to allow separated couples access to their former partner’s superannuation account details during a family law property proceeding.

The amendment, which is included as part of the Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No 6) Bill and set to commence from 1 April 2022, seeks to deal with the issue of non-disclosure of superannuation accounts during proceedings.

If the changes are passed as part of the bill, a party to family law property proceedings may request the Family Court registrar to obtain details of the superannuation accounts of the other party to the proceedings directly from the ATO.

The proposed bill was initially put forward in early June to ensure separated couples divided property on an equitable basis and therefore alleviate financial hardship that people, particularly women, suffer.

SuperCentral self-managed superannuation executive consultant Michael Hallinan said: “Given that superannuation accounts are, after the matrimonial home, likely to be the most significant financial assets of a married couple, it is vital for a fair property proceedings outcome that each party disclose their superannuation interests to the other.”

Hallinan further explained once the details of a superannuation account had been disclosed, detailed and up-to-date valuation information of the account could be requested from the trustee of the fund. However, where a party did not disclose an account, the other party would not have the relevant contact information to allow a disclosure request to be made.

A disclosure request will only be permitted under the Family Law Act through the Family Court registrar as Hallinan warned contact with the ATO directly will be declined due to secrecy provisions under taxation law.

“The bill will amend those secrecy provisions to permit disclosure to the registrar and by the registrar to the requesting party. Any superannuation information obtained by the registrar and disclosed to a party to the family law property proceedings must only be used for the purposes of those proceedings,” he said.

Under the proposed bill, the information accessible will include the fund name, contact details, the value of each superannuation interest, unclaimed superannuation amounts, co-contributions payable and shortfall amounts related to the person who is the subject of the inquiry.

The ATO, however, will not disclose the residential address of the person and the new provisions will not apply unless a court proceeding has commenced on or after 1 April 2022.

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