Since the 1990s divorce courts have been able to share pensions between spouses. With the problems in the property market in recent years sometimes the pensions have been the main or at least a major asset. Research still shows a marked reluctance to disclose the value of pensions (by men in the main it has to be admitted ) or to involve pensions in divorce settlements at all. The research also highlighted a gender split with men being very protective about their pensions and women more concerned to preserve the family home and forego pension sharing. Perhaps not entirely surprising given that women in the main are the principal cares for children and the roof over the head must be of greater importance than the possibility of a pension in 20 years time.
Despite this pensions are important and should never be “left out”.
They must be disclosed by way of a “cash equivalent transfer value “ in any divorce, the court form requires it;
Should be part of voluntary disclosure in pre divorce negotiations/ mediation or a settlement may not be binding;
Often need actuarial advice to value them and calculate a proper value because CETVs are not always helpful;
Can only be shared as part of a divorce settlement incorporated into an order (i.e. not by informal agreement);
Can be costly to implement because pension Trustees can set the fees for putting them into force.
I have frequently met situations where people are being presented with agreements to sign or even draft court orders where no divorce proceedings have even been started with no disclosure at all let alone pension information and separating spouses need to be aware of these requirements at as early a stage as possible or even well intentioned agreements can break down the moment anything is put before the court . At the end of the day only a court order will give a fully binding settlement so it pays to go through the court’s way of doing it so as to ensure that a binding settlement can be made into a order at the appropriate time . This, of course means disclosure of all assets including the pension.
Faye Remnant is part of our Family Law team based in Loughborough; our Solicitors in Loughborough are experts in their fields and dedicated to quality client care. If you would like to find out more about our solicitors in Loughborough please contact us.
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