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Separation and your super

Superannuation  |  8/10/2018  |   8 min read

36% of Australian marriages will end in divorce. While that number is down on 10 years ago, it still represents one in every three marriages.

A separation can significantly affect a couple’s post-separation income and asset holdings, which in turn can have an impact on their lifestyle and retirement. Separating couples should therefore consider obtaining appropriate advice both during and after the separation. But it’s not all doom and gloom. 

In an article for The Age, Professor Matthew Gray, the director of the ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods, said that “Women, on average, have a substantial drop in income post-divorce, but then start to recover as they get a job, increase their hours of work or get a more senior job and particularly if they re-partner.”

"We find that after five or six years, even if there are some lingering income consequences, they substantially recover their pre-divorce position.”

"Men tend to have the same disposable income after divorce - maybe even a little bit more - as their costs of providing for children can often be less, even after accounting for any child support payments,” added Professor Gray.


Aside from the family home, the single biggest asset an individual has is usually their superannuation. If one partner has raised children and worked part-time while the other has worked consistently this can result in a large difference in superannuation balances.

In divorce settlements superannuation is typically treated like any other asset and can usually be split between partners to reach a fair and equitable resolution. For example, a separating couple could agree that one partner is to keep the family home while the other takes some or all of the couple’s superannuation balances. This comes down to individual situations, preferences and the negotiations between the parties. 

4 stages of divorce   

According to financial adviser Helen Baker, the author of On Your Own Two Feet Divorce: The Survive and Thrive Financial Guide, there are four stages in any divorce.

1. Pre Settlement

Understanding your financial position is crucial if you’re going to negotiate a division of assets. While a lawyer can help guide you through the legal process, their advice is dependent on an accurate appraisal of your finances, this includes things like the family home, superannuation, shares, and other valuables.

2. Negotiation

Do you sell the family home? Who pays for the kids’ education? How is the super split up? These are typical things that are negotiated during a separation. 

3. Post settlement 

Once the settlement has been finalised and the assets distributed, it’s important to appraise your situation and consider your options. Speaking to a financial planner can help you make an informed decision about your financial future.

4. Rebuild

With the hard work done, it’s time to start looking forward to your new life and planning for the future. This could include updating and checking things like your will, insurance, and nominated superannuation beneficiary.


An Equip financial planner can help you map out your finances after a divorce. Learn more by clicking here. 


This information is provided for general information only. It does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and should therefore not be taken as personal advice. You should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it and, if necessary, you should seek professional financial advice. Issued by Equipsuper Pty Ltd ABN 64 006 964 049 AFSL 246383.  MySuper Authorisation Number 33813823017672  (‘Equip’, ‘the Fund’ and ‘the Equip Rio Tinto Fund’).

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