Pensions laws are extremely complex and we strongly advise you seek expert advice from the outset.
The court will take into account each party’s pension provision when they consider a financial settlement. How much of the pension taken into account will be dependent upon how long both parties have been paying into their own schemes and how long they have been married for.
Some circumstances will allow for pensions accrued prior to marriage or following separation to be treated differently to the pensions accrued during the marriage.
Three Options For Pensions And Divorce
Option one – Offsetting
A spouse’s claim can be offset against other capital assets. So, for example, if the spouse takes a greater share in the value of the property rather than receiving a share of a pension.
To offset a pension, there needs to be sufficient capital available to fully or partially buy out any pension claims. This option ensures that the lump sum and income element of the pension remain intact.
Option Two – Pension Attachment
A proportion of the pension lump sum and/or pension income or death in service grant is awarded to be paid to the spouse. It is up to the pension provider to make payments directly to the spouse.
This order is expressed as a percentage or fraction of the value of your pension at the date of retirement, which is different to a Pension Sharing Order. A pension attachment order is not popular as the spouse whose pension it is will lose benefits if they choose to remarry.
Option Three – Pension Sharing
A pension sharing order is available upon divorce or dissolution only. A percentage of your pension will be transferred to your spouse, but they won’t be able to draw upon it until they reach the age of 60.
The pension sharing order creates a clear break line. Any contributions made after the pension sharing order will be solely for the person holding the pension and not accessible by the spouse.
As we stated earlier, pensions are extremely complex issues and not everyone will be able to lay a claim to their spouse’s pension. If you would like assistance in dealing with a pension claim, please contact one of our specialists who will be able to advise you.