Am I Entitled to my Spouse’s Pension?
Pensions are often large assets, and they need to be considered in any financial settlement as part of your divorce.
They are seen as a capital asset of the marriage and so the starting point of the courts is that they should be shared equally – but this does not necessarily mean dividing by two.
There are a variety of pension types that are likely to be covered in a settlement:
- Personal pension schemes (including money purchase schemes, self-invested pension plans)
- Schemes you have through work such as Final Salary Schemes, Stakeholder pensions and Workplace Pensions)
- Additional State Pension
However, the basic State Pension is rarely included
It does not matter that the pension is held in your spouse’s name, it is still likely to be considered to be an asset of the marriage, except if it was built up before the marriage.
Even where the pension is considered to be a “non-matrimonial asset” you may be entitled to a proportion of it, if it is the only way that your needs can be met, in particular your needs into retirement.
How Does A Pension Affect A Settlement?
There are two main alternatives for sharing pensions in a matrimonial settlement: Pension Sharing and Offsetting.
Pension Sharing entitles one spouse to a percentage of the pension of the other spouse, whereas Offsetting values the share you are entitled to and this is figured into the overall settlement.
We will provide you with the advice that you will need to make the decision as to which option is best for you.
How Will the Pensions be Valued?
The valuation of pensions is a highly technical and specialist task – it is important that you get expert advice in this area.
At Brown Turner Ross, as specialists in Financial Settlements in Divorce, with significant experience in advising high net worth individuals, we have built up a network of actuarial/pension experts across the country who can assist us on the valuation process and to advise on the most cost effective way of sharing the assets from the pension.
The process starts with disclosure of any pensions by both sides.
Each side must provide an up-to-date basic statement of the value, which is termed the Cash Equivalent (CE), as well as confirmation of the rights or benefits under the pension.
It’s important to note that this is not a legally binding document within the Judicial system, but it can add weight to any future divorce proceedings so long as you prove that both parties had independent legal advice and were honest in disclosing their financial circumstances prior to the Separation Agreement bring drawn up.
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The pensions are then subject to valuation in the financial remedy proceedings in the divorce.