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A breakup is super hard – and can be hard on your super

Love song dedications are out the window and you’re wondering how you’ll move forward, not to mention divide your money, possessions and debts. But what about what you’ve saved in super?

Breaking up is hard to do. It can be an emotional rollercoaster, with lots to consider – Do you have to move? Who’ll get the furniture? What are the kids going to do? Where will your pets end up?

One of the bigger challenges is splitting your money, other assets, belongings and debts, whether they’re owned separately or together. And what might come as a surprise is this may include what you’ve both saved in super!

So, if you’re wondering if what’s yours is now potentially theirs, here’s what you need to know.

Do you have to split your super if you go separate ways? 

All your assets and debts come into the equation when it’s time to divide things up, and that applies whether you’re married or in a de facto relationship.

However, you may not have to divide your super if you can divide other assets and debts to reach a fair agreement.

How do you find out the value of your partner’s super?

It’s worth knowing how much you and your partner have in super, and keep in mind that nearly one in four people in Australia have two or more super accounts.

You can get this information by completing the form in the court’s Super Information Kit at

What’s the process if you do want to divide super?

There are a few ways super can be split between you.

You may have a formal super agreement in place already, or you might put one in place, as part of a broader financial agreement when you break up.

If you don’t have a binding financial agreement (or prenup) in place but have agreed how you’d like super split, an Application for Consent Orders can be filed in court.

The alternative, if you can’t agree, is applying for court orders, where a hearing will decide how super will be divided between the two of you. There’s generally a time limit you need to do this in.

If you decide to put off how you’ll split your super for whatever reason, you could set up a flagging agreement which means the super fund can’t pay out the super until the flag has been lifted.

How do you get the money?

Super is treated differently to other assets as there are rules around when it can be accessed.

That means the agreed amount may be paid into your super account or your partner’s. If someone has already retired, they might be able to access the money as a super benefit straight away.

Are there costs involved if you do split super?

On top of potential legal fees, financial advice fees and court costs, there may be other things you need to pay for when splitting super.

The super funds involved may charge for things like information applications, super splits and anything involving flagging agreements.

Where can you go for help?

There are complicated rules to navigate, so it may be worth getting legal advice and talking to your financial adviser, particularly if discussions aren’t going as smoothly as you’d hoped.

Source: Colonial First State

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