When two people separate, confusion may reign. It can be challenging to determine how everything should be split up, especially property. Imagine how much more confusing this process could get when superannuation is involved. If you're in this situation, how on earth are you going to go about splitting this up?
The law determines that superannuation can be considered as property. As a consequence, it can certainly be put into the pool for ongoing negotiation. There is a distinct difference, however. Superannuation is not considered in the same way as conventional property (such as a house) or other financial property (such as a bank account) are concerned. It has to be separately valued and sometimes, entitlements may be split.
When any entitlements are split, however, they're not automatically converted into a cash value. Specific laws are in place that state how benefits are issued from any superannuation fund and typically, they're not issued until retirement age. As a consequence, you may not be able to convert some of your previous partner's superannuation benefit into hard cash. You may be able to argue this, if you would encounter a lot of hardship otherwise.
In an ideal world, you would come to an amicable agreement with the other party about how superannuation is going to be split up. While this type of arrangement may be informally agreed, you will still have to get a carefully written agreement drawn up. You may have to get consent orders registered in some cases, or in the worst situation you could always get a court order lined up to mandate forward progress.
Can You Go It Alone?
While many people may choose to do this alone, the whole process can get very complicated indeed. If you do have to register consent orders or court orders, it's vital that they be properly worded, or they may not be enforceable down the road. In the short term, you could go through a lot of hassle in trying to generate these orders correctly, only to find that they might be rejected by the official registry, because they do not conform to strict legislation. Don't forget, as well, that the fund trustee will have a say in the matter and may raise objections if they're not happy.
The Best Way Forward
As a consequence, always consult with property lawyers who are experienced in superannuation. You will find that it will help eliminate many of your worries along the way.