Super funds have been urged to adopt a universal process for splitting super assets.
A new streamlined process has been created to help split super assets after separation or divorce.
The Simpler Super Splitting initiative uses a simplified form for court orders that can be used across the super and legal sectors and by the courts.
HESTA is the first super fund to adopt the initiative and recently trialled the court-endorsed orders and simplified process together with Women’s Legal Service Victoria (WLSV), Link Group and Australian Family Lawyers in a case involving two HESTA members.
Currently, the process for splitting super differs between super funds and the process of obtaining and completing super splitting orders is difficult without legal assistance.
HESTA CEO Debby Blakey has urged other funds to adopt the initiative to help ensure equity in super outcomes when relationships come to an end.
“Dividing super assets to date has been an unnecessarily long and complex process, often requiring expensive legal advice that can unfortunately result in many women, especially those from low-income households or who are experiencing disadvantage, walking away from their fair share of super assets,” she said.
“Given super is often the largest or only asset in the relationship for low-income families, it means many women are potentially losing their only income in retirement beyond the Age Pension.”
A report from WLSV previously found that super was the only significant asset for 21 per cent of the women it represented and 39 per cent of all small claims cases were found to involve a split of super assets.
“We identified through our report that women missing out on their share of superannuation after separation was contributing to poor economic outcomes, including long-term poverty and homelessness,” said WLSV CEO Serina McDuff.
“With women aged over 55, the fastest-growing group of homeless people in Australia, we prioritised creating change in this area so we could positively impact women’s economic futures.”
The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) said that a number of its members were in the process of adopting the new templates and encouraged all funds to do so.
Additionally, the new super splitting forms are set to become even simpler to complete with the introduction of legislation to improve super asset visibility.
From April, parties to family law proceedings will be able to apply to the courts for information from the Australian Taxation Office about their former partner’s super.
Jon Bragg is a journalist for Momentum Media's Investor Daily, nestegg and ifa. He enjoys writing about a wide variety of financial topics and issues and exploring the many implications they have on all aspects of life.
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