I propose to take Questions Nos. 646 and 647 together.
To qualify for a widow(er)’s or surviving civil partner’s (contributory) pension, the surviving spouse must be deemed, under Irish State Law, to be the legal widow(er) of the deceased.
The legislative provisions pertaining to the recognition of foreign divorces outside the State are set out in Section 5 of the Domicile and Recognition of Foreign Divorces Act 1986. Responsibility for this legislation lies with my colleague the Minister for Justice and Equality.
In accordance with that Act, a foreign divorce will be recognised in this State, if one of the parties to the divorce was domiciled in the country granting the divorce when those divorce proceedings were initiated. If neither party was domiciled in the country granting the divorce when the proceedings were initiated, the foreign divorce cannot be recognised here. One of the criteria in establishing a domicile of choice would be that the person intended to reside permanently , or at least indefinitely, in the jurisdiction of the state granting the divorce.
In determining domicile for social welfare purposes, an applicant is afforded the opportunity to make available to my Department any evidence that either party to the divorce was domiciled in the state granting the divorce at the time the divorce proceedings were initiated.
Where the foreign divorce is not recognised, any subsequent marriage cannot be recognised. In such a case a person cannot be deemed, under Irish State Law, to be the legal widow(er) of the deceased. Consequently, (where the subsequent marriage cannot be recognised), there is no entitlement to widow(er)’s contributory pension.
I hope this clarifies the matter for the Deputy.