Skip to main content

Bill delivers fairness for separating de facto couples in Western Australia

Media Release

De facto couples separating in Western Australia will finally be able to achieve a fairer split of their superannuation assets thanks to a Bill introduced in Federal Parliament today.

WA is the only Australian State that cannot divide superannuation when de facto couples go through a property settlement – a situation that usually disadvantages women who, on average, tend to have less superannuation.

The Family Law Amendment (WA De Facto Superannuation Splitting and Bankruptcy) Bill 2019 will end that anomaly and bring WA into line with the rest of Australia.

"De facto couples in the West have, for too long, had to put up with a situation regarding the treatment of super assets in property settlements which is different to the rest of the country," Attorney-General, Christian Porter, said.

"This has particularly disadvantaged women and resulted in inequitable splits of property, especially in situations where superannuation is the main asset – as occurs often when housing assets are heavily mortgaged."

Between 2003 and 2010, all states, except for WA, provided the Commonwealth with a full referral of powers relating to de facto financial matters, including superannuation.

"After more than a decade of wrangling, the Morrison Government last year accepted the limited referral provided by WA relating to superannuation," Mr Porter said.

"The limited nature of the referral complicated the legislative process to deliver this Bill. But I would hope that it will now receive bi-partisan support in the Parliament and can become law as quickly as possible.

"WA will also need to introduce its own legislation to support the operation of this reform, as WA remains the only State in Australia to run its own Family Court system, and there will also be amendments to subordinate Commonwealth legislation."

The Bill will also enable de facto couples in WA to have bankruptcy matters heard concurrently with their family law proceedings, avoiding the need for separate proceedings in two different courts.