Up until now, de facto couples in Western Australia have not been able to split their superannuation in their property settlements.
However, on 18 August 2022, the WA Parliament passed legislation that allows de facto couples in WA to split their superannuation. On 28 September 2022, this law took effect.
Prior to the reform
Before the passage of these new laws, WA was the only jurisdiction in Australia that did not allow separating de facto couples to split their superannuation. This is to be contrasted against married couples, as well de facto couples in our eastern State counterparts, who were entitled to split their superannuation.
Attorney General John Quigley classed this as a “long outdated arrangement” and an “historical wrong” that “created severe injustices”.
Because each party would have to walk away with their respective superannuation balance:
- no matter how disproportionate they were;
- regardless of whether one party (predominantly the mother) ceased working in gainful employment in order to care for the parties’ children, thereby accumulating no superannuation whilst the other party simultaneously other increased their superannuation balance;
- even if it was the biggest asset (or second biggest after the matrimonial home) of the relationship;
- even if there were insufficient assets (other than superannuation) that could be divided in order to achieve a just and equitable (i.e. fair) property division.
What does this mean?
In Western Australia there are more than 200,000 de facto relationships – this means over 400,000 people in WA will be affected by the new superannuation splitting laws!
The Family Court Act 1997 (WA), as well as the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) will continue to guide the Family Court of Western Australia in deciding property settlements in WA, now including superannuation.
The reforms will apply to all future de facto property settlements, as well as current de facto property settlements that have not yet been finalised. It is important to note that the reforms will not apply to de facto property settlements that have already been finalised with the Family Court.
Lawyers Who Care
If you, a family member or a friend have separated from a de facto partner and are thinking about doing a property settlement, we encourage you to seek legal advice from one of our friendly and knowledgeable lawyers here at Joss Legal.
We pride ourselves on being lawyers who care – being there for you every step of the way!
If you would like to book a $99 initial consultation with us, we can be contacted on (08) 6559 7480 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.