Pension division on divorce is a complicated business. The general approach might in theory be a 50/50 split. But in reality other matters – the needs of each spouse, the welfare of the children and what is contained in the overall financial settlement mean judges will frequently depart from the principle of equal pension division.

The factors the courts must take into account when deciding financial awards, including pension division, are listed in the Matrimonial Causes Act, 1973 Section 25 (see below). Here we look at the 2021 case of Baker v Finch. It illustrates how the courts apply the s25 factors in practice when deciding how to divide a pension. In particular the case demonstrates the difficulty of relying on the conduct of one spouse to reduce a pension share. In the case the wife unsuccessfully argued that her husband should receive a smaller share of the pension because his long bouts of unemployment meant he had contributed less.

Section 25 Factors: How The Divorce Courts Make Financial Awards

S25 sets out the factors the courts need to consider when deciding what financial orders to make on divorce. The factors are:

  • The income and other financial resources each party has and is likely to have in the foreseeable future
  • The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities each of the parties has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future
  • The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage
  • The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage
  • Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage
  • The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family,
  • The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would in the opinion of the court be inequitable to disregard it
  • Future financial losses arising because of divorce

In Finch v Baker case  the court looked at ‘contributions’ and ‘conduct’. Could the husband’s less significant financial contribution to the marriage amount to negative conduct, reducing his financial award and pension share?

Finch v Baker 2021: Spouse’s Conduct And Pension Shares

The wife had built up a pension with a cash equivalent of £2million in the course of her career as a television executive. The husband, who was retired, had a small private pension that generated about £900 annually as well as a state pension. Other matrimonial assets were valued at around £2million. At the first hearing in the District Court, the judge decided each party should get more or less equal pension income. He therefore granted the husband a 48.6% share of the pension generated by the wife’s employment. The wife appealed this decision and the husband’s share was reduced to 34%.

From our point of view what’s interesting is that one of the wife’s (several) grounds of appeal was that (in her view) it was wrong for the lower court to find that the husband’s contribution to the marriage was ‘modest’. She contended that in fact his contribution had been ‘significantly negative’. She pointed to his long periods of unemployment throughout the marriage, arguing that these should be taken into account when deciding any financial award, including the pension division.

Conduct v Contribution

The Court of Appeal was pretty forthright in its view of the wife’s argument that contributing less financially to a marriage could amount to bad conduct under s25 – describing it as ‘hopeless’. She was, the court decided, attempting to pursue a conduct argument by the backdoor by trying to frame it as a contribution argument.

In summary the wife tried to argue that the husband’s scant contribution to the welfare of the family could be used as evidence of negative conduct that should have the effect of reducing his share in her pension. She failed. The court’s priority in divorce cases is always to achieve fairness. Regarding the s25 factors the financial needs, obligations and responsibilities of the parties will always come first.

Contact Us

To discuss the financial aspects of your divorce settlement, including pension division please call Brookman Solicitors on 44 (0) 20 7430 8470 or contact us online. We are happy to provide a free, initial consultation.

Got a question? Ask us now…

Kindly complete the form below to send an enquiry. Your message will be sent to one of our solicitors. Discretion is guaranteed.

Your Information

  • Consider including information such as: the name of your spouse (if relevant), the country you live in, the background to your problem.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Over 2000 FREE
consultations and counting…

Our free consultation can help you more clearly understand the legal issues relating your case and what your options are to move forward.

Request your free consultation

Or send us an enquiry

I had applied for a free consultation and I was contacted in a very short timeframe. Thank you so much for the insightful and thorough consultation, Kevin Danagher. You made me feel at ease and you provided clear expectations with the initial info I had provided... I have now a much better understanding on my query.

Feb 2024   Sonia Accardi

We had a very useful first consultation with Amber Matheson today. Amber took the time to understand our (somewhat complicated) set-up, and offered good, understandable advice on next steps. She followed up with a very thorough email clarifying what we had discussed. Highly recommended.

Feb 2024   Lucie

Lovely friendly experience. All questions were answered so that I understood completely.

Dec 2023   Ali Catlin

Very balanced, fair and pragmatic advice. Thoroughly recommend!!

Nov 2023   James Elliott

Henry graciously provided his time for a consultation. I found him to be highly knowledgeable, empathetic and he provided excellent advice which put my mind at ease. Would highly recommend Henry and his firm.

Oct 2023   Allan Ang

Henry Brookman went above and beyond during the free consultation, and even overran the allocated time. He provided invaluable professional advice in a courteous manner. I recommend his firm without reservation.

Sep 2023   Mario Ignatov

I only had my initial free review with Amelia yet I already feel much more strengthened in my legal and financial position. I am currently reflecting on the steps I want to take to negotiate my desired outcome of the financial settlement but, when I am ready to use the services of a lawyer, Amelia is definitely the top on my list.

Sep 2023   Nahid Toubia

I had a zoom consultation with Lauren Moir and she was incredible. Very patient, insightful and reassuring. She also advised me based on my previous conversations with another firm and also clarified various positions I am in. Highly recommend.

Aug 2023   Gary Hawes

I was very impressed with the friendly, helpful and professional service offered by Brookman Solicitors. The generous advice and knowledge offered during the initial free consultation has enabled us to have a much better understanding of our case and plan a way forward.

Jul 2023   Peter Jackson

I had a first consultation with Kevin, who very diligently and professionally provided an exhaustive overview of the divorce process and the best approach for my specific case.

Jul 2023   Giulia Matteo

Great service and excellent advice at the initial consultation. I would certainly recommend and use in the future.

Jul 2023   Tom James

Spoke to a kind solicitor this morning who took an hour of her time to talk me through some advice relating to a difficult separation.... She was clear and helpful with her advice, leaving me feeling much more confident with the process ahead of me.

Jun 2023   Luke Taylor

Mr Brookman provided very clear advice that left me with no doubt about the options and next steps. Getting specific advice with the requirements in the different jurisdictions was particularly useful so I won’t need to consult another lawyer outside of the UK

May 2023   Julian Anthony

From initial contact I found all staff extremely helpful and professional. My options were made clear, my query was dealt with in a sympathetic way. Would highly recommend Brookman Solicitors.

Mar 2023   seamus mcguinness

The initial consultation I have just completed with Henry Brookman was very informative; he was very open and honest about my situation, the legalities of the matter and the extent of how his firm could help.

Nov 2022   Kimberley Noakes

Google Reviews
Ask A Question

Contact Us

If you have questions, contact us now, we can help you.

Enquire Now

Or call us on +44 (0)20 7430 8470