A property settlement between estranged husbands, wives and de facto spouses can only be the subject of court orders if it is determined to be a just and equitable settlement. It is therefore necessary to identify and value the assets, liabilities and superannuation entitlements of the parties, so that the parties and the court know the effect of any proposed settlement adjustment.
In these times of COVID 19 uncertainty, valuing assets and superannuation entitlements is posing special problems for parties. In relation to superannuation and superannuation splitting, answers to the following questions will need to be considered:
i. Is the superannuation interest an accumulation interest; or a defined benefit; or a pension in the payment phase; or an interest in a SMSF?
ii. What is the nature, form and character of the superannuation investments in which the party holds their entitlement? Is it invested in cash; or in equities; or in commercial property dependent on rental income?
iii. What are the risks in relation to these investments?
iv. What are the ages of the parties? If investments are sold now to create liquidity to enable a superannuation split to take effect, what is the impact?
v. Has the party recently drawn down on the superannuation due to special needs, and if so, how should that drawdown be treated?
vi. What are the risks of splitting superannuation using a base amount, as opposed to taking a percentage amount?
vii. Will a party be disadvantaged if their split of assets is weighted in favour of superannuation in uncertain times?
Mullane and Lindsay’s specialist team of family lawyers is continuing to work and provide clients with solutions for these issues through these uncertain times.