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Navy pension payout post-divorce


Claiming maintenance payment and medical expenses from a pension of your ex spouse who was previously employed by the South African Navy. Definition of spouse and children under the Navy Pension Fund Rules.

divorce and money & financial matters

From time to time I represent a client who is employed at the Simonstown Navy, and who is going through a divorce. The navy usually has a good pension payout for somebody who is employed there, particularly for a long period of time, and looks after its employees quite well.

I had a client who had worked at the navy for 20 years and who had resigned a year before consulting me. He was still receiving medical benefits from the navy even though he no longer worked there. Now that he was going through a divorce, a dispute arose between him and his wife as to what exactly she would be entitled to as far as medical benefits were concerned from the navy, if anything at all.

In terms of the Navy Pension Fund Rules, a “spouse” is defined as a person who is married to a beneficiary and which marriage is recognized as a valid marriage in terms of the Recognition of Customary Marriages Act, 1998, the Marriage Act, 1961, or the Civil Union Act, 2006. A person married to a beneficiary in terms of a valid marriage of any other country is also recognized as a spouse, and so is a civil union partner if that partnership is legitimately registered or contained in a duly signed Notarial Agreement.

The Navy Pension Fund Rules furthermore dictate that should such marriage or relationship be dissolved by a court order or a cancellation or agreement by a Notary Public, such spouse is no longer entitled to any benefits and neither are his or her children, step-children or legally adopted children who are in the custody of the ex-spouse. In terms of the Rules, if a court order stipulates that the principal beneficiary is responsible for the children’s health care expenses, such children may, on written application to the Manager, be re-admitted to the Fund.

In our case there was a dispute about whether our client should be liable post-divorce for the medical expenses of his wife, who post-divorce would no longer receive medical benefits from the navy, as she would then be an ex-spouse. Our argument here was that the wife worked and earned an income and should therefore be liable for her own medical expenses. The court accepted this.

Whenever I deal with a divorce involving the Simonstown Navy Pension Fund, I immediately see medical benefits as being a major part of the case. Simonstown Navy offers good medical benefits. They also however view an ex as being an ex, and one who is not entitled post-divorce to the medical benefits of their former spouse.

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