Parties to property proceedings under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (“the Act”) have an obligation to disclose information about their financial assets. In doing so parties are able to reach an agreement about their division of property and the Court to determine whether the property settlement is just and equitable. Superannuation is often the next significant asset of parties after the matrimonial home and if a party elects to not disclose their superannuation entitlements, the other party will be at a disadvantage in receiving an equitable settlement. In an effort to increase the visibility of superannuation assets held by a party Parliament passed the Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 6) Bill 2021 (Cth). The provisions under the Treasury Laws Amendment Bill will enable a party under ss 90XZB or 90YZR of the Act to obtain the most up to date information about the value of a former partner’s superannuation and will allow the parties to make a cognizant decision on whether to split their superannuation entitlements.
The Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and the Digital Economy, Senator Jane Hume stated that:
“These amendments will make it harder for parties to hide or under-disclose their superannuation assets in family law property proceedings, and will reduce the time, cost and complexity for parties seeking information about their former partner’s superannuation.”
In this context a party to a family law proceeding can apply through the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia to request the release of information from the Commissioner of the ATO to disclose the superannuation information of their former partner. The Treasury Laws Amendment Bill creates an exception to privacy laws to enable the Commissioner to disclose superannuation information requested by the Court for the purpose of family law proceedings. Once the information is received, a party will be able to contact the superannuation provider to obtain information such as current balances, which can then be disclosed during family law proceedings. It is expected that the ability to apply to the Court to request access for super information will commence from 1 April 2022 and this legislative amendment will provide parties with more transparency in obtaining superannuation information in order to make a more informed decision.