The relationship is over and the time has come to talk about money. Unfortunately, your partner is being defensive and evasive about their assets and income. Your “spidey senses” are tingling and you know they’re hiding something.

But what can you do about it?

Duty of Disclosure

A Family Law property settlement, in any form, demands a clear understanding of the assets and liabilities between the parties.

It is impossible to differentiate between a fair settlement or a settlement designed to put you out of pocket without first understanding the nature of the asset pool between you and your ex.

Legally speaking, there is a clear and enforceable obligation between the parties of property proceedings to provide full and frank disclosure to one another.

Also known as the “duty of disclosure”, the process of exchanging financial information with your ex is designed to ensure each party is afforded as fair and equitable division of property as possible.

Unfortunately, some parties seek to hide their assets away from their partners during this process.

One nest egg in particular bears the brunt of this abuse – superannuation.

Oftentimes, superannuation entitlements form the majority of joint asset pools.

With the rise of self-managed superfunds, keeping track of the real value of your partner’s super has never been harder.

Change in Superannuation

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

As of 1 April 2022, any party who has been previously married (note – changes are likely to be implemented shortly in Western Australia for people in de facto relationships, to bring WA in to line with the rest of the country) with property proceedings before the Family Court is able to directly make an application to the Court seeking evidence of their partner’s superannuation entitlements held by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

This application will then allow the seeking party to gain up-to-date superannuation information directly from their ex-partner’s superannuation fund, effectively by-passing the withholding party altogether.

Generally speaking, retirement outcomes for men have been historically higher than their female counterparts. Women have often forgone their right to work in order to support the family and ensure the success of their husbands.

Allowing a greater accessibility to superannuation information will begin to lessen the disparity of retirement outcomes between men and women.

Property proceedings are lengthy and costly, and this latest development is one step closer to achieving a fairer and equitable system.

If you, or anyone you know, are currently experiencing a family law matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

 About the Authors: This article has been co-authored by Jasmine Trewin and Caitlin Casey. Jasmine Trewin is a family lawyer who has completed both a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (majoring in Journalism). Jasmine spent time working at the Federal Court of Australia before joining Lynn & Brown Lawyers in August 2021. Caitlin is a commercial lawyer who has a completed both a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts.


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