pension international divorce

Pension given low priority in international divorce cases

In almost all divorce cases, the division of retirement pension is one of the last things married couples think about, particularly in the case of international divorces where the spouses’ priorities lie elsewhere.

“Can I move home? What will the consequences be? Will I lose my residence permit after the divorce is final?” Such matters primarily occupy the minds of divorcing partners. Nonetheless, the issue of pension rights will also have to be involved in any divorce settlement.

Dutch law applicable

Dutch law is applicable to the division of the retirement pension if Dutch law governs the marital relations. Then the Equalization of Pension Rights Act (Wet Verevening Pensioenrechten) applies. This means that each former spouse has the right to half the retirement pension accrued by the other partner during the marriage. Dutch pension schemes acknowledge the existence of a direct claim against the insurer. Once a former spouse retires, the insurer makes a payment each month to the other partner.

Foreign law applicable

If foreign law is applicable to the property relations between the former spouses, the Dutch Equalization of Pension Rights Act is nonetheless applicable where a Dutch pension scheme exists. In the case of a foreign pension scheme, it will be necessary to assess in accordance with the applicable foreign law whether the former spouses are entitled to each other’s retirement pension, and if so, in what manner.

Several foreign pension schemes have specific individual provisions relating to the retirement pension as well as the surviving dependant’s pension (the pension of the surviving spouse after his/her spouse’s death). This can lead to complications.


To conclude, retirement pension is given low priority in (international) divorce cases, and is often something that is overlooked. It is advisable  to look into this on time to avoid further complications.

Contact us for advice on your divorce and pension.