What happens to your super?
Our fact sheet will help you understand how super can be split when a relationship breaks down.
It will also guide you on what you need to do.Read our fact sheet
Going through a separation or divorce can be a stressful time for you and your family. The financial decisions you make now could have a big impact on your life in the future, so take the time to consider your options.
How is super treated when a relationship breaks down?
Super is often one of the biggest assets you have as a couple, but it’s often overlooked when a relationship breaks down. Any super assets you and your ex-partner hold can be taken into account when you divide your property during a separation or divorce. This applies whether you were married or in a de facto relationship (with someone of the same sex or opposite sex).
It’s important to remember that any super you split isn’t converted to cash so it’s still subject to super laws. This means you won’t generally be able to access it until you’ve met a condition of release, such as retirement.
You don’t have to split your super assets. Instead, you and your ex-partner could agree to use super assets to offset the division of other property.
Can all super entitlements be split?
Most super entitlements can be split. However, there are rules in place to prevent splitting of super if the balance is too small. For example, if your super balance is less than $5,000 it cannot be split. Payments made to a person on the grounds of severe financial hardship or on approved compassionate grounds can’t be split either.
How can super entitlements be split?
Not all relationship breakdowns end up in the courts. However, if an agreement can’t be reached between you and your expartner, the Family Court of Australia or the Federal Circuit Court of Australia may issue a court order.
Depending on your situation, there are three key ways that super entitlements can be split:
If you receive a super payment split through an agreement or court order, you can request to have your super money paid to:
This money can only be paid to you as cash if you’re eligible for a cash payment (e.g. if you’ve reached retirement age or the money is classified as unrestricted non-preserved).
Family Law can get complicated. A lawyer or mediator can provide you with advice and options for splitting super.
Seeking legal advice is vital during a separation and there are lots of ways you can do this:
There are also women’s legal services available in each state who can provide advice over the phone or in person.