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GEPF monthly payments are not affected by divorce, unless it is instructed by a court of law to do so. While the GEPF recognises all marriages including customary marriages, it is not an authority on the legality or otherwise of marriages. The GEPF pays a claim against a member’s benefit upon receiving a divorce decree ordering the Fund to pay an ex-spouse. The legality for spouses to claim against each other is presided by the courts of law. The courts decide if an ex-spouse has a right to claim.
What happens when a member divorces and a spouse claims against their pension?
GEPF rules have been amended to allow for a service reduction approach instead of the previous debt approach, with effect from 23 May 2019. The GEPF no longer treats divorce claims as a notional loan but instead uses the service reduction approach to offset the benefit paid to an ex-spouse. In terms of the service reduction approach, a member’s pensionable service will be reduced to take into account the amount paid to the ex-spouse.
The amount paid to the ex-spouse as per the divorce order will be converted to the member’s number of pensionable service years that are equivalent to it. The member’s pensionable service years will be accordingly reduced. When the divorced member exits the Fund, their benefit will be calculated on the reduced pensionable service years. It is however important to note that the Fund will still recognise the actual pensionable service years of the member (before the reduction) and the member will remain entitled to the nature of the pension benefits based on their actual pensionable service years.
This means if the member is entitled to a gratuity and an annuity based on actual service years, they will still be entitled to a gratuity and annuity but it will be calculated on basis of the reduced pensionable service. The GEPF has been developing the GEPF rules that will govern the implementation, following the law change. It was expected that this process will be finalised in July 2019 and the implementation of the new service reduction rules will then come into effect as of 01 August 2019. This means that as of 1 August 2019 the service reduction model will be used for all divorce orders granted after 01 August 2019