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Pensions & Divorce

Pension entitlements (also called “superannuation”) are usually the main security for a couple’s retirement. Therefore if a couple divorce it is important to consider whether both can be secure in the future. English law allows pensions to be shared (or “split”), or to “earmark” the income (that is to secure a set percentage of the payment).

Because there is such a variety of pensions, including state pensions and the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) as well as the issue of pension freedom, expert guidance is needed to ensure a fair arrangement. Foreign pensions also have to be considered.

Second to the matrimonial home, pensions are often one of the biggest assets in divorce, which is why it is so important to properly consider the most sensible way to split it.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Courts must take into account both parties’ pensions and pension rights in a divorce scenario. These include state pensions, workplace schemes and the personal pension plans of each party. In Scotland, a more mathematical approach applies; any increase in the value of your pension(s) from the date of marriage to the date of separation will also be considered by the Court when evaluating pension positions.

For a fair pension split, the first step is to find out the values of each party’s pensions. This requires asking your pension provider for a pension valuation, checking your latest annual statement for your pensions’ ‘transfer value’ (the amount you would get if you were to move your pension elsewhere) or, for more complex pensions, getting assistance from a solicitor and pensions actuary.

Current rules stipulate that basic state pensions cannot be split at divorce, although you may be entitled to claim a basic state pension using your ex-partner’s national insurance records. However, upon your remarriage, you will lose this pension entitlement. The additional state pension, which is built up in employment, can be split.

Pensions can be split in three ways:

  • Pension sharing: This allows you to claim for a percentage share of your ex-partner’s pensions, the amount of which is transferred into a pension of your own name.
  • Pension attachment: Otherwise known as ‘earmarking’, you can receive an agreed amount of your ex-partner’s net pension income or lump sum when it starts being paid to them. This option is more favoured by couples closer to retirement age.
  • Pension offsetting: The value of any pensions is offset against other assets, so for example, you receive nothing of your ex-partner’s pensions but keep the family home instead.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, only a Court can make a Pension Sharing or Attachment Order, whilst in Scotland, a Pensions Sharing Agreement can be set up outside of Court.

Pension division can be complicated: there are strict time limits, rules as to how agreements are written and the need to liaise with pension trustees, and therefore attaining guidance from a specialist solicitor such as Brookman is strongly recommended.

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Pensions

Pensions - Scenario Analysis Example #1

Mrs M consulted us. She was 52. Her husband was 54 and Chief Executive of an engineering company. He was likely to retire at 60 with a pension of half his final salary. He also had a private pension fund from years earlier. He argued that he had worked hard for his company pension and it was solely entitled to it. He proposed sharing the private pension fund.

Our solution:
We obtained a calculation that to replace half the future company pension benefit with a private pension fund would cost Mrs M £600,000. (This is a calculation called a “transfer value”) If Mrs M was to keep all the benefit she would need not only all the private pension fund but also more to provide an investment income. We settled the matter with Mr M agreeing to consent orders with a pension sharing order giving Mrs M all the private scheme and 25% of the company pension.

What our clients are saying:

‘FC’, London

“It was agreed between us that I actually needed and Singapore based lawyer rather that a British lawyer. This has worked out well so I am grateful for this honest advice.”


Google Reviews

Brookman Solicitors

91 Reviews

Joanne Chidwick 09/11/2020

I wanted to send a deeply personal thank you to Henry & the team at Brookman’s who have helped me through a very difficult time in my life. They have given me a truly personalised service & been incredibly sympathetic and supportive all the way through the process. I cannot thank them enough & would not hesitate in recommending them to others.

Karuppiah CT 18/10/2020

Mr Brookman was very thorough, professional and spot on. He understood my requirements, the complexities of the case and has dealt with it superbly. I'm very pleased with the service provided. Thanks very much.

Mohamed Ashraf Rashid 16/09/2020

Divorce is not very easy and sometimes one doesn't know what to do but when you have the right people dealing with the matter than it makes it easier.

I was recommended to Henry and initially I was hesitant to use a lawyer for my divorce matter purely because of the costs but in certain circumstances, it is better to go for it. It may seem costly but one doesn't have a choice.

The initial appt gives one an opportunity to hear the lawyer out and then to ask questions relevant to one's case.

The service was great - Thank you

Yesima Hamid 04/09/2020

I want to highly commend Brookman Solicitors firm. I had the privilege of getting very thorough and sensible advice from their solicitor Jennifer Douglas. I don't have enough praise for her. She made me feel at ease and 'got me' and understood very well all the issues and her advice was on point. I felt she had my interest at heart in all the different matters. She was very accommodating and willing. She truly made a difference. She has great insight and I truly recommend her and the firm. They are very professional with the human touch.

Roohie Mahajan 16/08/2020

I am so happy that I hired their services. I am from India and it was my international divorce case. My ex husband is in the UK. I had a free telephone conversation with Henry Brookman and I was so satisfied that without even meeting him I was so confident. My case was handled in the best way possible.

He is probably the one of the best lawyers in the world. He is extremely competent, professional, intelligent and empathetic. The only lawyer who genuinely work to help you rather than making money. He is a very experienced lawyer and he saved me so much money. He is so calm and kind towards his approach. He is the most genuine person I have come across.

I just came to London once to attend my hearing. My husband and his solicitors made it so complicated. My ex husband has to spend double the amount of legal fees than me. This is the difference between hiring a good experienced lawyer. Their fees might be expensive but good lawyer will make you save money at the end. Finally at the end I won the case and my husband has to pay all my legal fees without me travelling to the UK. I will always be eternally grateful to Henry Brookman and Brookman Solicitors. I am falling short of words to praise them.

I highly recommend their services. Keep up the good work.