Divorcees missing out on share of major asset

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When going through a divorce, many people think of dividing assets such as property, money and debts. But a study conducted in October 2019 has revealed that many Australians are unaware that they are entitled to a portion of this major asset. 

The study, conducted by UMR, surveyed 1082 people and found that more than half of them were unaware that superannuation benefits could be divided when couples separated.  

The study, commissioned by Industry Super Australia, found that only 53 per cent of women and 65 per cent of men who had involved lawyers, a court or used mediation, were aware of how or if superannuation could be split.

Two-thirds of the people surveyed by UMR believed that it was important for women to be able to easily apply for a share of their former partner’s super. Despite this view being shared by many legal and industry experts, the process is both difficult and scarcely known.

Chief executive at Super Australia, Bernie Dean, agrees. “The last thing anyone needs in a stressful time like divorce is to be confronted with a complex and costly process to get assets they may be legally entitled to.”

“Women sacrifice their super by taking time out of the workforce to raise a family. When that family breaks down it’s only right they’re able to access their fair share of their partner’s super,” said Mr Dean.

Since 2002, superannuation has been legally considered a divisible asset. Despite this, Courtney Mullen, from Australian Family Lawyers, said that many people overlooked superannuation during a divorce. “A very common misconception with people is that [superannuation] is not something to look at,” she told The Canberra Times

Ms Mullen, who is based in Canberra, said: “Without a doubt superannuation savings are a significant part of any property settlement when filing for divorce. But in Canberra this can be a very large nest egg when you consider the generous super arrangements for public servants.”

Lawyer Tania Clarke, from Women’s Legal Service Victoria, agrees, noting that many of the women who come to her for legal advice are surprised to learn that they are entitled to a share of their former partner’s superannuation.

“We support financially distressed women, many of whom have experienced family violence,” said Ms Clarke. When asked if they had any property, few of her clients considered their former partner’s super. “They are dealing with a myriad of issues and the last thing on their mind is that they can go for a property split.”

“For many women, superannuation is the only asset they can claim from their former partner,” said Ms Clarke. However, despite reforms underway in the industry, she notes that dividing super is generally a difficult and expensive process.  

“Dividing superannuation assets through the family law system is unnecessarily complex and often requires costly legal advice,” said Debby Blakey, chief executive officer of industry fund HESTA, who is working on the reforms. “This results in many women, especially those from low-income households or who are most vulnerable, simply walking away from their rightful share of super assets.”

HESTA, working alongside Women’s Legal Service Victoria, hopes to streamline the process, making is more accessible, efficient and affordable.

Did you know that superannuation is a divisible asset? Do you think that people should be able to claim a share of their former partner’s superannuation?

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13 Comments

Total Comments: 13
  1. 0
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    “Did you know that superannuation is a divisible asset? Do you think that people should be able to claim a share of their former partner’s superannuation?”

    Yes I have been aware of superannuation being an asset that can be divided in a divorce settlement. There is also Long Service Leave and accrued holiday leave that can be split. Whilst costly, a divorce lawyer should always be used to ensure a fair and equitable settlement of assets. I find it disappointing that representatives of super funds make the claim that dividing super is unnecessarily complex and often requires costly legal advice. Dividing super funds is no more or less complex than dividing any other assets.

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      They would have to EXCLUDE the person’s work contribution before and post-marriage in both partners. That would include a bit of extra work, expenses by Super companies, and the divorce legal representatives. Both partners work in the majority of marriages.

    • 0
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      Why is it Horace, that you find it necessary to repeat the question from the proffered text every time you write to these pages?

  2. 0
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    Legal firms and super companies need to act now to simplify the process and reduce the cost of splitting super in divorces. You are causing extra pain to the clients.

  3. 0
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    I have known this for 40 years apparently a lot of these super freaks on this forum do not. divorce in itself is not that expensive and to be honest if you have to divide assets this can be done apart from the divorce, that is the costly part , I guess this is why cheating arseholes like to keep their wife dumbed down.

  4. 0
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    Yes. I knew, from day 1… The day my wife decided to see a lawyer to “see how much of my super she could get, in case we divorced”… She said she is entitled to 50%.
    Despite my contributing to that super for all my working life, despite my having contributed for 13 years before I met her. Similarly to my home. 50/50 split, despite my having bought that before we even met. Her super? She retired from the public service, bought a car, bought an annunity (which pays next to nothing) and spent the vast majority of he super on world cruises wit her friends. Ditto the investment property I bought, and fully paid for. 50% please. Some years ago she inherits a huge sum of money. Great, I thought. At least she has now got something to contribute. Nup! Spent the lot on “non-tangebles”, and more holidays. So nothing to bring to the table. Me? I have always paid all the bills. Every rate, every grocery – the lot.
    So where are we now? What happened? Nothing. I am still waiting for that day. We are retired. We are living off my super and the rent from the investment house (which she wants to sell). I still pay each and every bill. With no suppport at all…
    Fun isn’t it.

  5. 0
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    Yes let’s spend the extra assets on lawyer fees instead!

  6. 0
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    It would appear as though the only winners are the lawyers. My partner went through this process a few years ago. Her ex’s lawyer said at first that his client was keen to settle the matter. What a complete crock. It took over 18 months and nearly $10000 to do so, thanks to stalling/avoidance tactics /lack of interest on his part. There were only two winners: each lawyer. No wonder they have such poor a reputation

  7. 0
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    Yes, I know Super is included in the Assets. There is a form to be completed and forwarded to the Superannuation Fund. Like all aspects of a property settlement, it depends on both parties reaching agreement. If one party stalls whether on the splitting of Super or sale of the house it can be costly and time consuming


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