What happens to my spouses’ pension if we get divorced?
This is one of those things that most people don’t think about and perhaps don’t want to think about, until they have to.
If you are a Brit living abroad or you previously lived and worked in the U.K and accumulated pension assets there, knowing where you stand in the case of divorce from your partner is useful. Often peoples pension assets make up the largest part of their wealth, and in most instances, this is intended to fund the retirement of both husband and wife. However, this asset is typically in the name of just one person. So, what happens if you get towards retirement and decide you no longer want to spend it together?
Getting divorced outside the U.K.
If you get divorced outside of the U.K, you will find that foreign court papers can’t be used to transfer a pension based in the U.K.
Pension providers will only share a pension that has a pension sharing order from U.K courts. Not knowing this could leave some people in a very unfortunate position later on in life, especially if the divorce is not agreeable.
If you get divorced in the U.K the process of getting a pension sharing order is straight forward. There are of course many factors to consider when deciding whether getting a divorce in the U.K or where you are resident is the best option. It is important to think about the bigger picture with regards to your assets and the difference in laws. You will also need to find out if you can get divorced in the U.K as this will depend on your jurisdiction.
If you have already divorced abroad, you will need to try and obtain an English pension sharing order. The best advice in this situation would be to speak with a lawyer who has experience dealing with this type of case.
In many cases the local divorce agreement is enough to secure a share of the income from the pension while it is being drawn on, however, should the pension holder pass away, this income will most likely stop, leaving the remaining ex-spouse no claim to continue receiving an income from the scheme.