Better visibility of spousal super needed

Super Consumers Australia has backed a proposal for better visibility of super assets in divorce proceedings.

The advocacy group said the measures proposed in the Government’s ‘Improving the visibility of superannuation assets in family law proceedings’ consultation would help women who were already financially disadvantaged by super.

In a submission, it said: “For many Australians, super is the largest asset they own after their home. One person not disclosing their super in divorce proceedings can have disastrous consequences for the other side.

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“This inequity happens more often to women than men.”

According to statistics from the Association of Superannuation Funds Australia (ASFA), women retired with an average balance of $122,848 compared to the average male balance of $154,453.

The legislation would ensure spouses would have to disclose all their super accounts, a key factor when many people held multiple superannuation accounts. This was an issue which the recent Your Future, Your Super measures sought to reduce by the introduction of stapling members to one fund.

“Women over 55 years old are also the fastest growing group experiencing homelessness in Australia. The inability to access their spouse’s superannuation assets is a contributor to this problem,” Super Consumers said.

“Around 40% of people with superannuation have more than one account. This legislation will ensure all accounts are disclosed, not just one. Ultimately, this process will make it harder for parties to hide or under-disclose their super assets and will reduce the time, cost and complexity in seeking this information.”

The proposed legislation would mean only a former spouse or de facto partner would be able to apply for registries to request superannuation information, the information required would be appropriate to validate the superannuation information and the account information would be accessible.

“Account information” would cover the account balance of each superannuation interest, whether it was in retirement or accumulation phase and whether it was account based or defined benefit interest.

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