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Divorce and Superannuation

When married or de facto partners separate, they will often need to divide all their assets – including their superannuation. Splitting superannuation after separation can be a complicated and lengthy process, so it’s always recommended that you seek legal advice first. At Culshaw Bishop Lawyers, our separation lawyers are dedicated to helping you understand the divorce and superannuation splitting process.

Divorce and superannuation entitlements

Under the Family Law Act, superannuation is treated as property. Laws on splitting superannuation allow the super of both parties in a divorce to be divided following the relationship breakdown. Any accrued superannuation can be split except for:

  • Superannuation entitlements less than $5000
  • Pension payments to dependent children
  • Temporary disability entitlements which have been paid for less than two years

Do I have to split my superannuation in divorce?

Because superannuation is considered property, it generally goes into the asset pool to be divided after a relationship breakdown. However, it’s up to the parties to agree on how they will fairly split that property. Learn more: Splitting Assets in Divorce

Is a de facto entitled to my superannuation?

The Family Law Act also allows separated de facto couples to split their superannuation. However,  in order for a party to seek superannuation interest, the de facto couple must be in a relationship for at least two years unless there are children involved.

How is superannuation split in divorce?

If the involved parties decide to split and share their accrued superannuation, the splitting can occur in one of two ways. By mutual agreement or by court order. For the superannuation to be split, both parties’ superannuation must be calculated and valued. In some circumstances, the parties may be able to negotiate a split specific to their reasonable needs post-separation. The Court’s responsibility is to ensure the splitting of the superannuation is just and equitable for both parties.

How long do I have to split superannuation following a divorce?

When it comes to divorce and superannuation, the time limits are as follows:

Divorced couples must apply for superannuation orders within twelve months from their divorce coming into effect, whereas de facto couples must apply within two years after separation.

Self managed super funds and divorce

Divorce and superannuation gets a bit more complicated if you’re a member of a self-managed super fund (SMSF). Being a member of a SMSF means you are a trustee and you have several obligations that need to be considered which can leave room for risks. We recommend speaking with our experienced family lawyers to ensure you fully understand the SMSF process and obligations.


Culshaw Bishop Lawyers

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  • 49 Hindmarsh Square, Adelaide, South Australia 5000


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  • 08 9488 1300
  • Level 8, 233 Adelaide Terrace, Perth, Western Australia 6000


Culshaw Miller Badenoch Lawyers

  • 03 9999 1588
  • Ground Floor, 501 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000