What happens if your ex-spouse has superannuation assets that you don’t know about?
It can be a tricky question to answer. It’s not unusual for parties of a relationship to be unaware of all the assets held by their ex-spouse, particularly information about where their ex-spouse holds their superannuation entitlements. Despite the Federal Circuit Court and Family Court of Australia Rules requiring parties to provide each other “full and frank disclosure”, many people fail to provide all of their information (either purposefully or unintentionally). Of course, the failure to provide complete disclosure about assets and liabilities make finalising Family Law Property Settlement matters extremely difficult.
So, what can you do if you believe that your ex-spouse has superannuation entitlements that they have not disclosed?
From 1 April 2022, The Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measure No. 6) Bill 2021 (Schedule 5) will enable the Australian Taxation Office (the “ATO”) to release superannuation information to the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia (the “FCFCOA”) upon request.
In order to obtain this information, an Applicant will need to be a party to a family law property proceeding and apply to the FCOCA registry to request their former partner’s superannuation information held by the ATO. Parties will then be in a position to utilise the information to seek up-to-date superannuation information from their ex-spouses superannuation funds.
In the past, it has been all too easy for parties to hide or under disclose their superannuation interests from each other during family law proceedings. This has often led parties to have to go to significant cost in obtaining the same information by subpoena request or generally expensive and lengthy Court proceedings.
Unfortunately, in circumstances where one spouse is earning significantly less than the other, it is common for them to be unable to afford the proceedings required to make such enquiries of their ex-spouse, meaning they ultimately miss out on receiving their superannuation entitlements. This is particularly problematic when there are no other assets of a relationship, and the only asset of the relationship is superannuation interest.
The introduced laws are a welcome change that will make this process much simpler and more transparent so that all parties can be assured they are receiving full disclosure of superannuation entitlements. It is expected that these changes will significantly reduce costs and court time for parties involved in divorce proceedings, and ensure fairness for all parties involved.
Not sure where to start with obtaining superannuation disclosure or how to split superannuation as part of a property settlement? Contact us for your first 15 minute free consultation and your first hour for a reduced rate. Alternatively, if you wish for us to contact you, please put your details in the contact box at the bottom of the page and we will contact you within a business day.