Family law

The family law legislation makes provision for the court to grant certain orders to ensure that adequate and reasonable financial provision can be made for the spouse/civil partner/qualified cohabitant or the dependent child of a marriage. Pension entitlements are considered family assets and can therefore be subject to division between the parties, where appropriate.

Where, upon application by either spouse/civil partner/qualified cohabitant or by a person acting on behalf of a dependent child, the court determines that all or part of the pension benefits should be split between the parties, a Pension Adjustment Order (PAO) will be granted.

A PAO, directed to the trustees of the scheme, is required in order that the pension can be paid out as agreed between the parties (or as decided by the court as the case may be), rather than in accordance with the rules of the scheme. Any agreement between the parties to split the pension benefits, such as in the context of a separation agreement, will not be enforceable: a valid PAO is necessary in all circumstances.

For further information on PAOs, please see the Pensions Authority’s publication “A brief guide to the pension provisions of the Family Law Acts ”.

If you have queries in relation to your pension and family law proceedings, please contact the National Family Law Pensions Management Unit by email to

 Please ensure that your legal representative has your written authority to discuss your case with us.