When a married couple divorce and finances are divided, any pension must be taken into account. In many cases, a pension can be more valuable than your home and therefore it is essential to know what your rights are to your spouse or civil partner’s pension on divorce or separation. The age at which the Government State pension is becoming available is continuing to increase and so it is important that you secure an income for yourself when you retire.
On separation, pension and SERPs rights should be considered as assets to be fairly shared and there are various ways whereby a pension can be split.
Offsetting can be used to compensate one spouse for the loss of pension rights. The pension finances should be looked at up to the date of separation. It may be the case that a clean break can be effected, for example, by one spouse retaining items of matrimonial property in return for relinquishing a claim on the other’s pension or some of it. Generally the matrimonial property will be split equally between the parties on divorce.
Therefore the one half share of the property that one party would normally be entitled to can, in some cases, be given up, to offset their pension rights.
A pension may also be shared by agreement or by court order. The pension provider can be directed to remove part of one of the spouse’s pension rights and assign them over to the other spouse, which will entitle that spouse to their own pension rights separate from their spouse.
The primary benefit of obtaining a pension sharing order is that you have your own pension on retirement. It therefore does not matter when your husband or wife retires or dies. Should you decide to remarry after the divorce this will not impact upon your pension sharing order. You can also decide who should be assigned your pension rights on your death.
Another benefit is that it allows a settlement to be achieved between yourself and your spouse or civil partner where there are insufficient other assets to offset against the pension value or where it is necessary for both to retain liquid assets but one party has substantial pension rights.
If you require any further information on your entitlement to a share of your spouse’s pension on separation or divorce do not hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.
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