Superannuation

The decisions you make now regarding superannuation will significantly impact the degree of financial freedom you have in retirement.

What is superannuation?

Superannuation is money that your employer sets aside as part of your employment package. It’s essentially forced savings for you to live off when you retire from work.

What types of superannuation are there?

The three most common superannuation types are accumulation scheme interests, defined benefit interests and self managed superannuation fund interests.

What impacts how much a person has in super?

Parental leave

Super generally isn’t paid during maternity or paternity leave – whether that leave is paid or unpaid.

Income

How much a person’s employer contributes to the superannuation on their behalf is greatly influenced on how much the person earns.

Employment

Sometimes small business owners don’t pay themselves super.

Moving

Relocation to support a person’s career can negatively impact a person’s super as a consequence of work hours, pay conditions, job prospects, and employment.

Withdrawals

Withdrawing super before being eligible for retirement reasons has long term impacts.

Work hours

Decisions made to reduce a person’s work hours to accommodate the family’s and household needs, reduces a person’s employer super contribution.

Life choices

Stopping work to care for ill family members, to travel overseas or across Australia for an extended period impacts a person’s superannuation because they mightn’t be contributing during this time.

Super fund performance

How a super fund performs in managing your super investment impacts what you’ll have going into retirement. The fund invests your super contributions on your behalf.

...and all these factors impact the future.

Decisions about superannuation are emotional

When separating, superannuation is something people either care very deeply about or not so much.

Understanding the importance of superannuation to you and its importance to your partner will go a long way to help you work together to reach a financial separation agreement (aka property settlement).

Want to include super in your financial separation agreement?

Include a Super split in your financial separation agreement

Have the ability to split superannuation to appropriately look after yourself and your partner, without relying on ‘spouse contributions’.

Ways to agree

Decisions that can significantly impact you financial future should be made with expert advice, not on whim. Any of the below expert types should be able to provide you with the right information, guidance and insights to help you decide what to do about superannuation after separation.

Lawyer

An experienced family lawyer can provide you with advice about what an appropriate superannuation division looks like for you.

Financial planner

A financial planner can model your financial future using different scenarios – with more and less superannuation. Learn how to build or rebuild your super after separating.

Super expert

Understand the ins and outs of super so that you can forward plan for your retirement and get clear on what you’re getting or missing on when it comes to super.

Common Questions

The answer to this question is, it depends. It depends on a whole range of factors and therefore only legal advice from a family lawyer would be able to give you this answer.

There is no legal requirement to split superannuation. You and your partner can agree that you’ll keep your respective supers.

If you make your agreement official in a Financial Consent Order, you can agree not to split super, but your agreement must be overall “fair” in the eyes of the law.

Yes you can. Depending on your and your partner’s ages though, it may be appropriate to discount the cash-super trade off. 

If you know the name of the super fund who your partner has super with, you can ask the super fund directly and confidentially for information about your partner’s super. The super fund is not allowed to tell your partner that you’ve asked for the information. 

The form to look or ask for from the super fund is generally known as a ‘Form 6’ (as known prior to 1 September 2021). Alternatively, you can complete the ‘Superannuation Information Kit’ form from the Court and send it to the superfund to respond to – click here

If it’s needed, our preferred experts who we work with are: 

  • Dan Blackman – SuperInfo (defined benefit family law valuations and expert consults)
  • Stephen Bourke – SuperSplitting (defined benefit splitting Orders and SMSF Orders)

Getting a defined benefit super interest valued involves a two part process.

Step 1: Complete a Form 6 and send it to the superfund.

You can get this Form easily by simply googling ‘[insert name of fund] and Form 6’ or ‘Application for Superannuation Information’.

The super funds generally make this readily available on their website as a downloadable pdf document.

Follow the instructions to complete the document. Generally speaking the relevant box to tick will be ‘…to assist me in connection with the operation of Part IIIIVB of the Family Law Act 1975’.

Regarding the date that you want the super value at, the strict legal approach is to adopt the current date but you can choose any date you wish. Legal advice would give you insight into the date to nominate.

Step 2: Once you receive the data response from the superfund, you’ll need to arrange for the interest to be valued.

We recommend the team at SuperInfo.com.au. Superinfo have made it really easy for you to simply copy and paste the data numbers from the Form 6 form that you receive into their system. We suggest doing this so as to avoid missing numbers and making mistakes.

If you and your partner are not splitting the defined benefit super interest, there is no legal requirement to have the super interest valued.

However, you should note that the effect of your proposed agreement in percentage divisions will be artificial, and if you make your agreement official in a Financial Consent Order, the decision-maker (Deputy Registrar) may insist on a family law valuation to determine whether the proposed split is “fair” in the eyes of the law. This could therefore delay your agreement being considered and approved.

You can find out the impact that a proposed super split would have on a defined benefit interest before deciding on the amount with SuperInfo’s “Splitting Estimator” service. 

With a drag feature, the Splitting Estimator allows you to play with different figures to discover what the impact would be on the member and non-member, for example, the pension amount each person will receive.

To get access to this tool, visit SuperInfo – CLICK HERE.

Generally this will be evident on the super member statement – particularly if there are different components (accumulation interest and defined benefit). 

The following are defined benefit superannuation interests:

  • Military Super (MSBS)
  • PSS (Public Sector Superannuation)
  • CSS (Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme)
  • DFRDB (Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits)
  • UniSuper (some interests)

Dan Blackman is the co-founder of SuperInfo and is Australia’s leading expert for the Commonwealth government’s defined benefit schemes (ie. PSS, CSS, DFRDB, MSBS). 

Consider having a one-off consultation with Dan to better understand the defined benefit super before committing to a super split amount or getting advice from a lawyer. To find out more, CLICK HERE.

Resources

Sometimes, it feels much easier to be get what you need without having to actually speak to someone

Get plain English, practical information and resources to help you in your separation without breaking the bank.

If you’re unsure on what you need, call our team on (02) 6100 3629.