Until now, members of separating de facto couples in WA have each left their relationship with their individual superannuation, unlike de facto couples anywhere else in Australia. In other states, under the Family Law Act 1975, de facto couples (and divorced couples) in other states have their superannuation treated in the same way as other financial assets or resources in a property settlement. Now, it appears arrangements for super splitting for separating de factos in WA will fall into line with how the rest of the country operates.
Over 200,000 West Australians declared their relationship status as “de facto” in the 2016 census, representing an increase of 30,000 from the census five years conducted previously. And for those de facto couples who separate, there has been a “considerable disadvantage” with regard to super splitting, WA attorney-general John Quigley said.
Commonwealth law extended superannuation-splitting arrangements to de facto couples in 2009, but there has been a ten-year dispute over the issue between state and federal governments. However, federal attorney-general Christian Porter has now announced his reform plans, after a recent meeting with Mr Quigley in which discussion centred on enabling super-splitting for separating de factos in WA via a “limited referral of power”.
Such a referral of power would mean that “the Family Court of WA would apply the Family Law Act 1975 to determine a just and equitable division of the superannuation interests held by de facto couples engaging in property proceedings,” Mr Porter said. It would give WA’s separating de facto couples access to the national family law super splitting regime in the Family Law Act.
The development is hailed as a major breakthrough for WA’s government. Industry group Family Law Practitioners Association WA has also praised the newfound cooperation between WA and Canberra culminating in this reform, as it will lead to more clarity for practitioners.
Source: The West Australian
Would you like advice in relation to super-splitting or how your superannuation might be treated under family law? Please contact Canberra family lawyer Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced team members here at Alliance on (02) 6223 2400.
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