Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Ceisteanna (646, 647)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

646. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection her plans to address the issue of persons that are divorced in other jurisdictions and subsequently married here that are unable to qualify for widower's pension due to the non-recognition of a foreign divorce; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8440/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

647. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection the basis on which some divorcees that have divorced abroad are legally entitled to enter into a legal marriage contract here which presumably recognised their entitlement to marry but at a later date are refused a widow's or widower’s pension on the basis of non-recognition of the divorce; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8441/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Employment)

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.

Question No. 648 answered with Question No. 601.