Time is running out for couples living and divorcing abroad to obtain a Pension Sharing Order if they have a UK pension. Any such orders should be obtained before the end of 2020 when the transition period of Brexit runs out.
Even if a financial settlement is dealt with abroad they will still require an English court order if a UK pension is to form part of the settlement and be shared between them.
An increasing number of people have moved abroad in recent years and a BBC report suggests that an estimated 5.5m British people live permanently abroad with Australia and New Zealand being among the most popular destinations. Many of these are couples retiring with UK pensions built up over many years.
Although trade negotiations with the EU continue an important EU rule under EU Maintenance Regulations is unlikely to continue to apply resulting in spouses being unable to have their ex partner’s pension as part of the divorce if they no longer have a residence in the UK.
Under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984 English courts can currently hear financial cases after an overseas divorce as long as one of the parties is resident in England, or there is a matrimonial home in England which one or both parties has a financial interest in. These orders (including Pension Sharing) are needs-based and it is necessary to show that the party will suffer in retirement with either very little or no pension available without the order.
At the moment if neither party lives in the UK nor is there a matrimonial home then under the ‘forum of necessity’ a case can be heard in any of the member states as long as there is sufficient connection to that country. If the pension is a UK based pension this will show a connection to England.
In many cases pensions are a major asset in the division of matrimonial finances and can be worth many hundreds of thousands of pounds.
It is therefore imperative that couples undergoing divorce and financial settlement living overseas seek urgent advice in this respect
If you would like advice on pension sharing orders or any financial implication of divorce contact Spectrum Family Law on 01279 799598 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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