Ian Butterworth
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Date Published:21 Nov 2016 Last Updated:28 Jul 2021

Divorce: Claims Against Overseas Pensions

Family Law

It has recently been determined that Pension Sharing Orders are not available in respect of overseas pensions. However, all is not lost for divorcing couples with offshore pensions. The Court simultaneously approved an alternative means of obtaining a direct share of an overseas pension following a divorce.

In Goyal v Goyal Mr Justice Mostyn was asked to consider whether a Pension Sharing Order could be made in respect of an overseas pension. After inviting written submissions from the Family Law Bar Association and Resolution, he was persuaded that pension sharing upon divorce is not available in relation to any foreign pensions. However, he pointed out that this is not the only means of securing a direct share of an overseas pension.

Mostyn J stated that an alternative means of securing a share of a foreign pension upon divorce is to enter into an agreement, backed by undertakings, to obtain an Order in the relevant foreign country. Prior to approving such a technique, however, evidence must be provided to confirm that the pension provider will give effect to the deal. Otherwise, the agreement would be futile.

In Goyal, the wife (who was unrepresented) had not filed any evidence that a Pension Sharing Order would be enforceable in the country in question. Unfortunately, her application was therefore dismissed.

The above case demonstrates the need for divorcing spouses to seek specialist legal advice, particularly where there are offshore assets. Should you require any assistance in this respect, please do not hesitate to contact Ian Butterworth through this firm’s Family Department on 01202 636223.