When dividing property after separation, you may wish to consider ordering a family law Superannuation valuation.
There are many variations of superannuation funds, but the most common are Accumulation funds and Defined Benefit funds.
With Accumulation Plans, contributions are made to the member’s account by employers, and potentially by the member themselves. These funds are invested to earn interest, which may be positive or negative depending on the market conditions. These funds are generally straightforward and their value can be determined from the Annual Statement or by requesting the value from the superannuation fund for a particular date.
For Defined Benefit Interests (eg Commonwealth Super Scheme, Public Sector Super Scheme) the member’s superannuation benefit is generally determined by a formula. This formula varies between superannuation funds but is usually based on a number of factors, including the member’s average salary leading up to your retirement, the member’s age and how long they worked for their employer.
Defined Benefit funds are very difficult to value and a formal superannuation valuation needs to be conducted by an actuarial who applies the superannuation fund’s formula to the member’s benefits. A valuation can be conducted based on the Annual Statement. This is not a task your family lawyer can carry out.
Alternatively your family lawyer can request information from the superannuation fund for a particular date, such as the date the parties separated, by way of an approved form. The information provided by the superannuation fund in their Annual Statements or in the additional information we may request is very confusing. Let us help you with that. There may be instances when really should obtain specialised valuations, and other times when it is not necessary. We can advise you what is in your interests.
It is very important if the other party has a Defined Benefit superannuation fund to have it professionally valued. We recently had a matter where the information provided by the superannuation fund indicated that the fund was valued at approximately $720,000 but the formal valuation of the fund was approximately $1,800,000. This was approximately $1 million more than what the Annual Statement indicated. This was a great success for our client as it meant that she received a much higher amount of superannuation in the final property division than what she initially thought.
Do you need help with a property or superannuation matter? Please contact Cristina Huesch, Sharla Stevens or Angela Li at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400 to discuss your matter further.