Superannuation can often be a couple’s biggest investment asset. Until recently there was an inability for separated de facto couples in Western Australia to include it in their division of property as an asset for adjustment. The limited options available to effect an equitable settlement and sometimes impacted on those clients who were a resident in Western Australia when their de facto relationship broke down. It also disadvantaged women who retire on average with half the superannuation of men.
On 28 September 2022 Western Australia came into alignment with the other states and territories, all of which have allowed superannuation splitting for de facto couples for many years.
The Family Court of Western Australia is now able to make orders splitting the superannuation interests of de facto couples in Western Australia. This includes those with family law proceedings already on foot in respect of their non-superannuation property interests, if those proceedings have not been finally determined. De facto couples will not however be able to seek a superannuation splitting order if they already have final property orders.
The new legislation also extends the federal bankruptcy jurisdiction of the Family Court of Western Australia to enable it to hear bankruptcy proceedings concurrently with family law proceedings for de facto couples, where appropriate.
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