Foreign pensions in English divorces
In our increasingly multinational world, can an English divorce court make an order against a foreign pension? The recent case of Goyal v Goyal addressed the point, and seems to decide that it cannot.
A court made an order that the husband should transfer his Indian annuity to his wife, rather than making a pension sharing order because the judge took the view that he could not order pension sharing against an overseas pension.
The Court of Appeal said that the particular form of the order for transfer was wrong, and sent the case back to the High Court for the point to be reconsidered by a another judge. In deciding to reject the original order, the Court of Appeal commented that there was no apparent automatic bar to making a pension sharing order against an overseas pension, although it did not have to consider that issue in depth.
Back in the High Court, Mr Justice Mostyn rejected the application for a pension sharing order. He decided, after a detailed assessment of the law, that a pension sharing order was not available against an overseas pension. However, the case continues on other points, including whether the husband can nevertheless be ordered to pay the income from the annuity to the wife, in part or in whole.
Pensions, local or foreign, are often the most valuable asset in a marriage, more than the family home equity, but are subject to complicated rules generally, and in divorce proceedings particularly. Particular care needs to be taken when considering how pensions should be dealt with as part of any divorce settlement.