From April 1 2022, separating or divorcing couples can make applications to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to disclose their former partner’s superannuation savings. Those involved in property settlement proceedings can apply to courts in order to gain information regarding their former partner’s super savings disclosed to them by the ATO.
During divorce and separation proceedings, it is common for ex-partners to hide assets before property settlement. This has often resulted in complicated and lengthy procedures. There are heavy costs associated with finding former partner’s superannuation balance.
Moreover, people will often have multiple superannuation accounts, making it all the more difficult to find the super balance of an individual.
In an article published by Sydney Morning Herald, it is reported that women from low-income households are more disadvantaged by this as they can rarely afford the fees associated with finding the partner’s balance.
The new law of increasing transparency will, therefore, especially benefit them by allowing them to have access to information regarding their former partner’s superannuation. So far, it has been inconvenient for people to simply rely on their former partners to accurately provide information regarding their super.
Following the breakdown of a relationship, not everyone would remain sincere in disclosing information about their assets. This is why these new laws are especially critical. It will ensure that property settlement is just and fair with each party receiving an appropriate portion of the asset pool.
Superannuation Disclosure: Why Is This Especially Important For Women?
Reports have indicated that women have had lower super balances as compared to their male counterparts. This can be attributed to two reasons:
- Firstly, it is a fact that women have historically earned less than men – even for the same roles. Only in contemporary societies – owing largely due to widespread activism on the issue of gender pay gaps – has this issue been rectified. But the fact remains that in some industries, women are still consistently paid less than men.
- Secondly, there are many interruptions in women’s professional lives as they are required to take maternity leave, and leave to take care of the elderly in their family. Once again, because of growing awareness, paternity leave has been normalised in our society. However, it is women who take such holidays more commonly to fulfil these duties.
Because of these reasons, following division of assets, it is found that women often miss out on the share that they should be entitled to when former partners hide their assets. Importantly, non-financial contributions such as raising the family, and looking after the children are also considered when property settlement matters are being finalised.
However, despite their contributions, women do not receive a fair share of the assets following the breakdown of a relationship. Because of these reasons, the new disclosure law is being hailed as a game-changer, particularly for women.
What Other Reforms Can Be Expected?
Along with the changes which will be effective from 1 April 2022, there will be stricter penalties for failing to make a frank disclosure of assets. When dealing with financial matters within Family Law, the courts will impose tougher penalties if all information regarding finances are not disclosed accurately by an individual.
This also includes updating any financial information accurately. Failure to do so can result in heavy fines or even imprisonment. This is because it is found that individuals try and hide their assets by adopting various means such as opening multiple bank accounts. This poses a great disadvantage during property settlement proceedings, as it obstructs the court from finalising property settlement matters in a way which is fair and just for both involved parties.
JB Solicitors’ Family Lawyers For Property Settlement
Property settlement procedures are complicated and lengthy especially because identifying all assets in itself is a time-consuming process. The new law can expedite this process by allowing individuals to make applications to the ATO to have information about their former partner’s assets to be disclosed.
De facto couples who are going through a separation or married couples who are getting divorced now will be obligated to provide a full and frank disclosure of their assets. Family lawyers at JB Solicitors are committed to help their clients with matters related to division of assets, and ensure that these processes are completed without any hassles.
Contact us if you have any enquiries.