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Expat divorce & pension sharing (4 Posts)
Started By:
12 October, 2009 09:28AM
Expat divorce & pension sharing
expat - 12 October, 2009 09:28AM
My wife and I have been separated for two years. We both live in Australia under permanent residence visas - as such we are tax resident in Australia. We carry British passports (only) and both our fathers were British. We do have connections in the UK (family) and maintain bank accounts in England. I believe we qualify as being domiciled in the UK.

I have a UK pension and I am now 55. We wish to have a clean break divorce and my wife and I agree that we want a pension sharing order. How do we go about this?

Thanks in advance.
Re: Expat divorce & pension sharing
davidterry - 13 October, 2009 05:07AM
Well, if you have a UK pension and you want a pension sharing order the only way that can be done is by a court order within the context of a divorce in England. Even if a court in Australia has the power to make a pension sharing order in respect of an English pension (and I don’t know, you would need to speak to an Australian lawyer about that) such an order would almost certainly not be recognized by the English pension fund. The pension fund will require the order of an English court.

Now, you say that you believe you could establish domicile in England. If that is the case then you can issue a divorce petition in England based upon that domicile. Divorce jurisdiction is based on either residence or domicile in England. Since you seem not to have acquired Australian nationality or acquired Australian passports it is quite likely that you have retained your English domicile for divorce purposes. The domicile of your country of birth is in fact quite difficult to shake off. If one of you can satisfy the court here that he/she intends to return to England at some point in the future and not to settle permanently in Australia then you will be able to satisfy the court here that it has jurisdiction on the grounds of your English domicile.

As a matter of interest, if the holder of the pension did not want to share it then he would seek a divorce in Australia. You will almost certainly be able to seek a divorce there because of your residence in the country.
Re: Expat divorce & pension sharing
expat - 13 October, 2009 09:28AM
Thanks for that. Do either of us need to come to the UK to get a divorce there?
Re: Expat divorce & pension sharing
davidterry - 13 October, 2009 05:37PM
You should not need to actually come to England in order to get a divorce here. In almost all cases divorce is a matter of paperwork which does not involve anyone attending court. It can be done very well by email and/or paper correspondence. Even snail mail between the UK and Australia is surprisingly quick. You should be able to do it will enough from Australia without ever setting foot in the UK.
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