Should you wish to discuss, in strict confidence, any of the issues raised in this article, please contact the author, Sarah Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pensions are invariably a contentious subject when dealing with financial issues on divorce. Bath family lawyer Sarah Jackson considers this emotive subject further.
Pensions are assets too
An overriding concern of all those considering divorce is that they get a fair share of the assets and most believe their home to be their most valuable. But we should not forget our pensions. It is not uncommon for a person’s pension to be their single largest asset and this impacts both parties in a divorce.
Pensions must be disclosed
Regardless of how a couple wishes to deal with their pensions on divorce, the value of all pensions must be disclosed to the court before a financial settlement order is made. Pensions therefore cannot be ignored.
How to share a pension
You may choose to share a pension after divorce by way of a pension sharing order. This is where a proportion of the pension (a credit) is transferred into a pension fund in the recipient’s name, leaving the donating spouse with a reduced fund. Alternatively, you may agree a ‘pension off-set’ where one spouse retains (more of) the pension and the other spouse retains more of the other assets. A third option is pension attachment.
It is imperative to get legal advice from a specialist divorce lawyer as the implications of each of these options so that you can choose the one most appropriate for you.
Importance of expert advice
In some cases, the value of a pension (known as the cash equivalent transfer value or CETV) provided by the pension company doesn’t accurately reflect the true value of the pension; it is not uncommon for a pension company to significantly underestimate the retirement benefits. A specialist divorce lawyer will be able to help you find out if this is the case with yours or your spouse’s pension. At BLB we work closely with pension actuaries and tax advisers to ensure our clients get the best possible outcome.
There are special considerations to be had where a pension is already being paid or if the pension-holding spouse wishes to take an early lump sum.
Dealing with pensions on divorce is a complicated business and getting it right, particularly when your pension is your most valuable asset, is of paramount importance.
All you need to know – and more
My ‘go to’ guide on pensions on divorce, posted in 2015, remains current and deals with the above issues in more detail.