How much of my pensions will be taken into account by the court?
The total value of the pensions you have each built up is taken into account. This means all of your pensions, not just the ones you or your ex-partner built up while you were married or in a civil partnership although in some instances it may be possible to make adjustments to the financial settlement to reflect pensions accumulated outside the period of the marriage (including the period that you spent living together provided there was no break and it led seamlessly into marriage / civil partnership).
This could include:
Personal pension schemes (including money purchase schemes, self-invested pension plans
Schemes you have through work
Additional State Pension (but not the basic State Pension)
The rules of the pension scheme will help inform you which of these options will work best for you. It is important that you get professional advice from a solicitor and or a financial adviser before you take any steps with regard to dividing up your pensions.
The main options for dealing with your pensions are:
You get a percentage share of any one (or more) of your spouses’/ civil partner’s pensions. This is either transferred into a pension in your name or it may entitle you to join your ex-partner’s pension scheme. There may be better benefits available from the pension if you are able to remain a member of your spouse’s scheme. If the pension is transferred to you and you don’t already have your own pension, you’ll have to set one up. An independent financial adviser will be needed to assist with this. A pension sharing order can only be made if your divorce or dissolution is completed with the court pronouncing a Decree Absolute / Decree of Dissolution.
The value of any pensions is offset against other assets. For example, you might get a bigger share of the family home in return for your ex-spouse keeping their pension. It is vitally important however to appreciate that it is not an easy exercise to compare the value of a pension which is a future income stream and say money in the bank which is immediately available to you.
About pensions and divorce
Accessing pension funds
You have to appreciate that in taking money now you are sacrificing a pension which you may also need in the future. It is also important that the pension is properly valued by an actuary or a pension adviser so that you are fully informed as to your options.
Pensions attachment order: Effectively some of your pension benefits are “earmarked” (attachment orders used to be called earmarking orders) so that you get some of your ex-partner’s pension when it starts being paid to them. You can get some of the pension income, the lump sum or both. But you can’t get pension payments before your ex-partner has started taking their pension.
Splitting your pension after you’ve retired
If you and/or your ex-partner have retired and your pensions are in payment, the pensions can still be split. It isn’t possible to take a lump sum from your ex-partner’s pension if they have already taken their lump sum.
Do you need a court order?
Only a court can make a pension sharing order, pension attachment or earmarking order. Even if you decide to pursue the option of offsetting we would always recommend getting a court order to ensure certainty and also enforceability should something go wrong.
You should get advice from a family lawyer who knows about pensions in divorce or dissolution as the rules are complicated. At Stowe, we have many members of our team who have extensive experience in dealing with this complex area of the law and would be more than happy to sit down with you and discuss your options. We will also put you in contact with a financial adviser who can assist you.
Contact Stowe, pension and divorce (UK) specialists
We are Stowe Family Law solicitors, and we have extensive experience helping people work through the financial implications that come along with divorce. We can aid your case with a hands-on approach to divorce and finances, using all of our expertise to make things easier for you.
Joanna Newton is tough, knowledgeable and dependable, she listened to me and discussed my options with me. She advised me where I stood and what my rights and my ex-husband's rights were. She gave me trusted advice about my home and financial security. I would recommend Joanna without any reservations.
Client: Ms G
Joanna Newton is always extremely well prepared and aware of the issues which are likely to impact on her client’s goals. Joanna cares a great deal about achieving the right outcome for her clients.
Client: Legal 500
I approached Louise to help me with my, divorce, finances and safeguarding issues around my children . Louise was extremely professional, friendly and knowledgeable. She offered me so much support and guidance and was with me every step of the way. It never felt like anything was too much trouble and I always felt reassured. I would highly recommend Louise at Stowe family law, if you are looking for a highly professional and superb service then I suggest you instruct Stowe family law to act on your behalf as I am so grateful that I did.
Client: Mrs H
I would like to thank Kate Sarsfield, QC Katherine Dunseath and Gill Bridger for all the hard work and immense support they have all given me over the past six months. Stowe handled my divorce in 2013 to 2015 and then a capital settlement plus lifetime maintenance for our down syndrome daughter five years later. It has been an extremely emotional and stressful experience for myself and our two special needs children. I cannot thank the Stowe team enough for their professionalism, quality advice, empathy and wonderful support. We fought a very hard battle and won! I will always recommend Stowe Family Law.
Client: Ms G
I came to Matt after trying to finalise my financial settlement with my ex-husband through previous solicitors for 6 years, with no success. Matt took complete control of things, achieving a fabulous and swift result, finally allowing me to move on with my life. He was absolutely amazing and fantastic to work with.
Approachable and professional practice that has the client's interest at heart.
Stowe Family Law are forward thinking and are not short of new, exciting ideas of how family law should be in the ever evolving market.
The family team are thoroughly prepared and deal with complex financial remedy issues.
Client: Legal 500
I came across Stowe during a specific search online and I am so glad I found them. Once my background case had been assessed, Gareth Curtis was recommended to me as the best placed for my needs. Gareth has been so empathetic, supporting and preemptive of outcomes before they happened which I have to say helped me to understand the process very well and take some comfort in his knowledge. Stowe were also able to provide in house forensic accounting and recommend to me a very well suited Barrister and other experts that I have needed to call upon. I am happy with the outcome they achieved for me. There is no shadow of doubt that I would highly recommend using Stowe, they will be there every step of the way to ensure you are looked after and receive the best possible advice available. Thank you.
Client: Mrs B
Jemma Slavin is an all-round brilliant lawyer – she is excellent with clients and well-liked by local solicitors as an opponent, not because she is an easy opponent but because she always takes a proportionate and cost-effective approach to cases. Rachel Fisher is a friendly but formidable lawyer who is extremely good for her years of PQE. Joanna Newton is a brilliant addition to the firm – a truly high-class act.‘