In an effort to assist women experiencing family and domestic violence, the Government has proposed to extend the ability to access early release superannuation based on feedback from the wider community. While the Government has stated that super should ideally be preserved until retirement, there are certain immediate and extreme circumstances where the benefits today outweigh the benefits of maintaining those savings until retirement.
Currently, the early release of superannuation can only be provided in limited circumstances such as terminal illness and severe financial hardship. It is hoped that by extending early access to super for victims of family and domestic violence, it can provide an important lifeline for these victims to begin the recovery process in a safe environment.According to the Government, around 17% of women have experienced violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15, which means around 1.6 million Australian women have been victims of domestic or family violence. The early release of superannuation is just one aspect of a package of initiatives aimed at assisting women with superannuation. The other initiatives include better visibility over superannuation in divorce or separation proceedings, and actively reuniting lost and low-balance inactive super accounts with their owners.
Usually in divorce or separation proceedings, superannuation represents a significant asset making up a large portion of the overall asset pool. Under the current laws, where parties to family law proceedings are evasive regarding the amount of their superannuation, it can be costly and time-consuming to gather the information required in order to establish the identification of the superannuation account, let alone the balance.
The Government is proposing to develop an electronic information sharing mechanism between the Australian Tax Office and the Family Law Courts to allow superannuation assets held by relevant parties during family law proceedings to be identified quickly and accurately. It will also reduce the need for information gathering (which would save on legal costs) and ensure just and equitable superannuation splitting outcomes.
If you want to know more about these initiatives or other strategies to boost your super, contact our financial advisers at The Peak Partnership. We can help you develop or review your financial plan to maximise your retirement savings, whatever life-stage you’re at.