Brexit, divorce and UK-based pensions - Kuits Solicitors Manchester

Brexit, divorce and UK-based pensions

Brexit, divorce and UK-based pensions

10th September 2020 - Published by Family team

UK-based Pensions and Divorce

The UK’s “divorce” from the EU has hit the headlines again with various tales of woe if demands are not met before the transition deadline which expires on 31 December 2020. However, one little known consequence of the forthcoming deadline has slipped under the radar largely unnoticed: namely the effect on the ability of a foreign-based party to be able to make a claim against the UK pension of their former spouse.

Many ex-pats, of whom there are estimated to be 5.5m, will have retained assets, including pensions, in the UK. There will also be many foreign nationals who have worked in the UK, building up pension pots, before returning to their home country.

In such cases, where couples separate and divorce, either in their chosen country or having returned home, the English court can, where certain conditions of domicile, habitual residence and property ownership are met, make orders in relation to remaining UK-based assets including pensions.  Where those conditions are not met, an EU Maintenance Regulation enables such applications to be made in “exceptional” circumstances, offering in limited situations something of a fall back position.

EU Maintenance Regulations

However – and here’s the catch – at the end of 31 December 2020, when the current transition phase ends, the EU Maintenance Regulations (which currently offer some comfort) are unlikely to be applicable in the UK. This means that a divorcing couple living abroad, who still having pensions based in the UK, should be looking now to obtain advice from a specialist family divorce solicitor in the UK, otherwise it may prove impossible for certain former spouses to benefit from their ex-partner’s UK pension, when it would have been appropriate for them to have done so.

Get in touch with a family divorce solicitor in Manchester

To speak to a family divorce lawyer, please call Colin Davies on 0161 838 8180 or email


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