Under Australian Family Law, people in de facto relationships have the identical rights as married people when separating. When it comes to the splitting of assets, the same laws apply to both de facto and married couples in all states.
Until recently in WA however, the laws regarding the splitting of superannuation for de facto couples, differed somewhat to married couples and the laws of the other states of Australia.
But from 28 September 2022, new legislation was passed, bringing WA in line with the rest of the country, making settlements more fair for de facto couples and far simpler for the Courts.
Our team have put together a summary of the changes to the law and how they will affect the splitting of superannuation funds at the end of de facto relationships in WA.
Changes to Splitting Superannuation For De Facto Couples In WA
Superannuation Rights For De Facto Couples – Before 28 September 2022
In most other states in Australia, superannuation is regarded as an asset and forms part of the overall asset pool that is split between separating couples. In WA however, the actual superannuation could not be split, but was rather taken into account when evaluating and dividing the asset pool. Basically, the superannuation could be used as a “trade-off” for other assets. This created several injustices.
Firstly, in low-value asset pools, the superannuation often formed the biggest part, or in many cases, the only significant part of the pool, leaving one partner far worse off than the other.
Secondly, it discriminated against women, as on average, women accumulate less superannuation, and women that did not work, often had no super at all.
And thirdly, the Family Court of Western Australia could not hear bankruptcy proceedings, forcing separating de facto couples to apply to two different Courts, increasing their costs substantially.
Fortunately, after much deliberation, the new changes have addressed these injustices, providing fairer and more just settlements.
Superannuation Rights For De Facto Couples – After 28 September 2022
The new legislation now allows for the superannuation to be split in “a fair and equitable manner” along with all the other assets in the pool as part of the overall settlement.
The changes also allow the Family Court of Western Australia to hear bankruptcy proceedings concurrently with other family law property proceedings, sparing separating de facto couples the extra expense of applying in two separate Courts.
To discuss how these changes to splitting superannuation for de facto couples in WA might affect your separation or divorce, get in touch with our team of family lawyers in Perth today for a confidential discussion.