If you’re married or in a civil partnership and you decide to divorce, or dissolve your partnership, the court will take account of all assets, including those help in a pension, when determining a financial settlement.

Please remember – this is a complicated legal matter, and professional guidance should be sought before any financial decisions are made during a divorce.

Pensions and divorce

 

If you are not married or in a civil partnership, each party has no claim on the others pension plans.

For those that have been in a civil partnership or married, each party needs to declare each asset they hold when dissolving a civil partnership or getting a divorce – this includes cash, investments, shares and pensions as well as tangible assets such as cars, art, watches and jewellery.

Pensions are usually one of the most important assets that will be a big part of your financial settlement.

At that point, it will be important to determine the value of each pension. That will include workplace and personal pensions that you or your partner hold. You may need to include the state pension as well. Much of that will depend on whether you’ve reached pension age after or before April 6th, 2016. You can find a more detailed explanation on the matter on the www.gov.uk website.

Ways to split your pension(s)?

Splitting

Here are the five most common choices for splitting a pension when divorcing:

Pension Sharing Order

This is an order made by a judge to divide pension savings between both parties. This order will award either party with a percentage of their former partner’s pension . If you come to this agreement, you can choose either joining your ex-partner’s pension scheme or moving the money to a new pension in your name, or an existing pension if it accepts the transfer.

Pension Offsetting

It means that you are able to retain the value of your pension, while your former partner will receive a greater share of another common asset. For example, your home, large bank account savings, or some other property.

Pension Earmarking Order

A Pension Earmarking Order (also known as a Pension Attachment Order), happens when part of the pension is awarded to your former partner and is “earmarked” for their benefit. However, it means that the earmarked value stays within the original scheme, and is ring-fenced for the benefit of the ex-partner. This means that the pension can only be drawn when the scheme member elects to take benefits.

Timeframe for divorce claims

Once you and your former partner find common ground and reach a divorce settlement, you need to tell your solicitor to draw up a “consent.” The “consent” will make your settlement legally binding. When the court accepts this settlement, it becomes final. Consequently, none of you can make further money claims in the days ahead.

If both parties find it difficult to agree, there is no time limit to when that needs to happen or when they can exert their divorce pension rights. A claim can be presented to a court at any time after the divorce, irrespective of how long since the divorce has been finalized.

Pension sharing on divorce

Sharing

When divorced, you usually share all of your common assets with your ex-partner. In some situations, that might include the pension as well. Here is how to split a pension after a divorce:

Splitting a pension when getting a divorce

Unless you have come to a financial agreement or have a prenuptial agreement in place, there is a pretty good chance that you will need to split all of your common assets fairly. The list of common assets can include the family home, other property, savings, and even pensions.

Splitting pensions is a fairly easy operation when divorcing. However, both parties need to declare the full worth of their pensions so that the split can be fair. In some instances, even a state pension can be split.

Those that have reached a state pension age before April 6th, 2016, are drawing what’s known as “basic” state pension. This pension cannot be shared. But, if both of you receive an additional state pension, which comes on top of the basic pension, then the court will order you to share it with your former partner.

Those that have reached a state pension age after April 6th, 2016, will have what is today known as a new state pension. The court can’t order you to share this pension.

Some couples choose not to share their pensions after getting a divorce. Instead, they opt for sharing assets differently. Those that separate from a long-term partner, but were not in a civil partnership or married, might get a part of their assets but can’t ask for a divorce pension.

All in all, regardless of which divorce sharing options you will use, know that nothing is set in stone until you got a court order in hand. Until there is a court order in force, both you and your ex-partner can’t make any claims as you like at any given time.

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