The number of couples seeking a divorce spikes in the first half of the year, with the first Monday of January dubbed ‘Divorce Day’ by legal professionals, due to the high volume of enquiries from unhappy couples. Pensions may not be at the forefront of a separating partners’ concern, but it should be.
The Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Bill was announced in the Queen’s speech last autumn, highlighting the government's plans to speed up the divorce process by allowing no fault splits, which could make it less costly for couples.
This could be good news to help couples split more amicably, but it can mean that financial matters may not be considered thoroughly, pensions may not be considered and it can leave one partner struggling financially in later life.
Why you should consider pensions in divorce
Even in 2020, matrimonial lawyers still do not have a proper and full understanding of pensions and how they should be divided upon divorce. It is a serious area of work which can cause significant loss to the beneficiary of a pension share and/or in a situation where assets are offset against the pension funds.
There are two types of pensions; defined benefits and defined contributions, this is where the misunderstanding normally arises. Defined benefit schemes are a contractual benefit guaranteed by an employer/company, as to what will be given depending on salary, years’ service and various other issues and can have significant benefits to widows/widowers, that a spouse can significantly lose out on if not properly advised during the divorce process.
I have been undertaking negligence work for a number of clients who have experienced under-settled divorce cases, where previous matrimonial lawyers failed to thoroughly value their former partners pension and they have lost out on what they are entitled to. Cases vary, but I was able to secure a lump sum settlement of £24,000 for one client and £19,000 for another.
It is important to understand the type of pension scheme that is being dealt with and the benefits associated, this is something we have vast experience with and can advise on the best possible outcome for you.