In accordance with the Family Law Act 1975 and the
Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 an interest
in superannuation or superannuation payment may be split by
agreement or court order between partners where the relationship
has broken down.
What can be split?
Most superannuation interests may be divided between the former
partners. However, exceptions include superannuation payments made
from a fund on compassionate grounds, payments made due to severe
financial circumstances or for health reasons or superannuation
interests under $5,000.
What options are available?
Partners wishing to divide their superannuation interests have
Splitting a superannuation interest though a
'payment' or 'interest' split
The superannuation account will be split when a condition of
release is satisfied, for example, becoming payable on retirement.
An interest split sees each party receive a superannuation interest
as opposed to a payment. This benefit can remain in the existing
account or be transferred to another super fund.
Flag the benefit to defer the decision until a later
A "flag" ensures each partner's interest is
protected until a certain event occurs such as the retirement of
one partner. When the specified event occurs, the value of the
benefit will be known and the superfund's trustee can execute
the account as previously agreed between the parties.
Take into account the superannuation but take no direct
The partners may take into account the value of the
superannuation account, and divide other marital property taking
into consideration the value of the superannuation account. The
superannuation funds are regarded as a "financial
resource" that the fund holder will have access to in the
Splitting superannuation through a family law property
In WA only married or divorced couples may divide their
superannuation interests in a family law property
settlement. De facto partners living in Western Australia cannot
split their superannuation interests. In de facto matters the court
will consider superannuation amounts when it looks to the future
needs of the parties as a financial resource accessible in the
What advice do I need?
Superannuation splitting is complex. Parties considered going
down this path will need legal advice and financial planning and
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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