Family Law in Ireland
PENSION RIGHTS (SEPARATION & DIVORCE)
This is a very complex area of the law and this summary is merely a ‘bare bones' description of Pension Plans. Very often, the employed spouse believes his or her pension is sacrosanct because he or she worked hard for it. However, in divorce or judicial separation proceedings, pension rights must be considered as they are income to at least one of the parties. Only pension rights accumulated during a marriage may be considered. Although Trustees of the Pension Plans are not parties to the divorce, the law gives the courts power to order trustees of a pension to pay benefits in accordance with its order. This type of order ensures that the Trustees will make regular or lump sum payments to the non-employed spouse.
The two main kinds of pension schemes are: 1) Defined Benefit, and 2) Defined Contribution. Under a defined benefit, an employee's retirement benefits are based on that person's tenure with the company and the agreed-upon benefit derived from such service. When the employee retires he will receive a sum of money usually on a monthly basis. However, there may also be a lump sum benefit payable in the event of the employee's death. Under a defined contribution plan, a certain amount of money is saved by way of contribution over a period of time.
Sometimes the court will seek other resolutions to the pension issues. This is usually referred to as a “Pension Adjustment Order”. Pension benefits may be taken into account by the court by making an adjustment to the other properties not related to the pension. For example, a life assurance policy may be taken out for a dependant spouse and children in lieu of a pension adjustment. In order to receive such an order the applicant must apply to the court otherwise no such order may be had. All parties considering a separation or divorce should consult a solicitor regarding pension plans.
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