In 2016, the Small Claims, Large Battles project was established to investigate and document the experience of vulnerable women seeking family law property settlements. Through the project, with pro-bono support from leading private law firms, we are providing legal assistance to women who ordinarily could not afford to resolve their family law property issues.
Women are most at risk of economic hardship when relationships end. However, where the asset pool is small or consists entirely of superannuation or debt, many women simply walk away from seeking their share of property. Women who have experienced family violence are also disadvantaged by the family law system. In particular, court processes and rules can be used by perpetrators of violence to continue to control, financially damage or abuse a victim.
We aim to highlight that currently the length, cost and complexity of family law property settlements makes them inaccessible to many women who need them most, (such as women already experiencing poverty).
An article appeared in The Age newspaper at the time the report was launched detailing why women are walking away from the family law system and why reform is needed.
Small Claims, Large Battles Campaign Update: Improving access to a perpetrator’s superannuation fund details
One of the key recommendations that WLSV is pursuing in 2018 is recommendation 5 of the Small Claims, Large battles report:
“The Australian Government provide an administrative mechanism for the release of information about the identity of a former partner’s superannuation fund and its value”.
WLSV has been advocating at the federal level for the administrative mechanism to be administered through the ATO and for the release of information to be provided directly to the family law courts upon application. The ATO and other key industry stakeholders, including AIST and ASFA, are supporting WLSV’s efforts for reform in this area.
To access the briefing paper which explains why WLSV is campaigning around recommendation 5 this year. – Small Claims, Large Battles Briefing Paper
You can also listen to Senior Policy Advisor, Tania Clarke, on the ABC program “The Money” and on the am program, talk about the barriers that women experiencing relationship breakdown and economic abuse, are facing in accessing a fair superannuation split through the family law system and why reform is needed.