Islamic spouse entitled to pension

2012-03-14 16:17
Johannesburg - A spouse in an Islamic marriage is entitled to a share of the partner's pension fund upon divorce, the Pension Funds Adjudicator (PFA) said on Wednesday.

The ruling came after Tanya Yasmine Tryon complained that Nedgroup defined contribution pension and provident funds had failed to pay the pension interest allocated to her in terms of a divorce order.

"Since the complainant was married to the fund member according to the tenets of the Islamic religion, and that their marriage, although not registered as a civil marriage, was dissolved according to the tenets of the religion, the complainant had every right to be considered as a spouse for the purposes of payment of pension interest," said acting adjudicator Elmarie de la Rey.

Tryon's marriage was dissolved on September 21 2007.

The dissolution of marriage and the settlement agreement between her and her husband was made an order of the South Gauteng High Court on September 21 2011.

In terms of the settlement agreement, Tryon was entitled to 50% of the value of the fund, calculated from the date of inception, to September 21 2007, being the date of the fasakh (ending of the Islamic marriage).

Refused to pay

Nedgroup defined contribution pension and provident funds (first respondent) and its administrator Old Mutual Life Assurance Company (second respondent) refused to pay.

They submitted that section seven of the Divorce Act provided that a member's pension interest would only form part of the member's assets in the marriage if the parties were married in community of property, married with the accrual system, or married pre-1984 in terms of an antenuptial contract without the accrual system.

They argued that Tryon and her former husband, who is the member of the pension fund, were not married in terms of any of these regimes, so the pension interest was not part of his estate's assets.

However, on Wednesday, De la Rey said the PFA tribunal was satisfied that Tryon should be considered as a spouse for the purposes of pension interest payable by Nedgroup.

"This much was also confirmed by the High Court when it made its order regarding pension interest on 21 September 2011," she said.

"The definition of spouse in section one of the act also accords with this tribunal's interpretation."

The pension companies were ordered to pay Tryon her share of pension interest.
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