In many financial disputes involving married couples, pensions are a major asset which need to be taken into account when considering a financial settlement. This is a complex area of law that needs to be addressed by a specialist when considering your financial entitlement.
When a financial case is considered in divorce proceedings, a judge must consider “the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which by reason of the dissolution, that party will lose the chance of acquiring”.
An example of this would be their spouse’s pension benefits.
Do you need a pension sharing expert’s report?
According to a recent report called A Guide to the Treatment of Pensions on Divorce, issued in July 2019 by the Pensions Advisory Group [PAG]:
- If the combined values of the pension funds [known as Cash Equivalent values – CE] are worth £100,000, a pension expert’s report should be considered.
- If the CE values are worth £200,000 or more, a pension expert’s report is recommended.
- Reports are also recommended if a spouse is a member of an armed forces or emergency services pension scheme.
The pension expert is known as a Pensions on Divorce Expert (a PODE for short), who will undertake the assessment and report on the recommendation in a case. They are commonly an Actuary or Financial Advisor, with several years’ experience in this area.
A Pension Sharing Order can be included in a Financial Remedy Order within divorce proceedings. The court can also grant one party an “off-setting order”, which means that a party may, for example, be granted a greater share in the matrimonial home in lieu of a reduced or no claim against the other party’s pension scheme. Its appeal is entirely understandable, particularly to primary carers of young children, as it may help them to stay in the home. However, when considering whether to make an off-setting order, the report by PAG recommends, in circumstances I have referred to above, an expert’s report from a PODE.
The latest government statistics indicate that 36% of divorce cases when there has been a financial order have involved some form of pension order, which suggests that off-setting is a commonplace. It therefore remains a popular choice for many people.
Keith Bull, who is head of the Family Law Department at Bromleys Solicitors LLP, is an Assessor and accredited Family Law Specialist by a national organisation known as Resolution to advise married couples on financial disputes. Keith has a wealth of experience in this area as he has been qualified as a Family Law solicitor for 30 years.
Keith is also an Accredited Family Specialist in financial; children and domestic abuse cases and can be contacted on 0161 330 6821 for a free 30 minute initial consultation.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.