Divorce and Pensions: How to Protect Your Pension in a Divorce UK

divorce and pensions
Legally reviewed by: Shakeela Bi In: Family

Divorce and Pensions UK

It’s very important to take steps and understand your rights in regard to divorce and pensions. If you don’t take these steps there is a chance that your soon-to-be ex-spouse could make a claim for a portion of your pension, putting you at a disadvantage financially.

Despite this risk, almost 70 per cent of divorcing couples fail to consider their pension during their divorce process, regardless of the fact they are often a person’s single largest asset. One reason for this might be that many people just don’t know how to make arrangements, which is why we’re going to explain how to protect your pension in a divorce so you can see what might be right for you.

How to Protect Your Pension in a Divorce UK

Do you need specialist legal advice and support about your divorce and pensions? We can help you figure out what works best for you.

Divorce and Pensions: Is My Ex Entitled to My Pension?

In short, yes. Your ex is entitled to make a claim to benefit from your pension.

The general rule in the UK is that assets you and your spouse have built up during the course of your marriage are shared and so should be divided equally in the case of a divorce. As well as property, business and investments, cash and savings, and physical assets such as cars, the contents of your pension are also counted as a shared asset.

In theory, your ex-spouse or ex-civil partner can make a claim to receive money held in the workplace and/or private pensions you have. They could also claim for any additional state pension allowance, but not the state pension itself. Unmarried partners who separate cannot access their ex’s pension.

So how do I protect my pension in a divorce in the UK?

If you want to protect your pension from your soon-to-be ex-spouse or civil partner, you need to seek legal advice and obtain one of the below types of court orders.

Our expert divorce solicitors can help you decide which option is best for you, so you can relax knowing that your pension is protected.

How do I Protect My Pension in a Divorce?

There are a range of different ways to protect your pension in a divorce so that you do not end up suffering financially.

You should seek legal advice from a divorce solicitor before deciding which option works best for you.

The main options you have regarding to divorce and pensions are financial settlement orders, pension offsetting, pension sharing orders and pension attachment orders.

1. Financial settlement orders

Without a financial settlement order, your ex-spouse could make a financial claim against you to obtain more assets. This can happen at any point in your life, even if your divorce was years ago.

That’s why it’s very important to obtain a financial settlement order at the same time as your divorce. These orders are only legally binding when drafted by a solicitor and approved by the court.

Financial settlement orders can include pension arrangements for you and your spouse, even if you are nowhere near retirement age. If you choose to obtain a financial settlement order, make sure you agree on a settlement that is fair to both of you. This will help to avoid having to go back to court in the future if one of you believes you have been made worse off as a result of the initial order.

2. Pension offsetting

While pensions should be taken into account in your divorce, they don’t have to be split, equally or at all. Instead you can handle your divorce and pensions dispute by offsetting the pension, which allows one of you to take the pension whilst the other takes assets of an equivalent value, such as property or investments.

This can be beneficial to both parties, however you should note that pension values aren’t considered to be directly equal to other asset values. This is because they may be taxable when withdrawn, are not accessible until you turn 55, and may have other costs such as accessing and running them.

3. Pension-sharing orders

Pension sharing orders are issued by the court in order to determine how a couple’s pensions will be divided in their divorce. The court decides on the percentage each person is entitled to based on the total value of their pensions.

If you are too young to receive your partner’s pension – i.e. under 55 – then the court will issue a deferred pension sharing order, which means you will be entitled to receive your share once you reach 55.

Pension-sharing orders can only be issued by the court, however, this isn’t always as stressful as it sounds. Often couples are able to come to an amicable agreement that is mutually beneficial.

4. Pensions attachment orders

Pension attachment orders allow for maintenance payments to be paid from one person’s pension pot to their former spouse. Under this sort of order, you wouldn’t start to receive payments until your ex-spouse began to take theirs.

Pension attachment orders are often beneficial for couples where one partner is financially reliant on the other, because it enables regular payments to be made, ensuring that the reliant partner isn’t left with no money.

How Can Cartwright King Help with Divorce and Pensions?

Knowing how to protect your pension in a divorce is very important and should be one of your top priorities during the process. Failing to take action to protect it can make the future uncertain, which could cause you unnecessary stress.

Here at Cartwright King, we know that going through a divorce can be taxing, but we can make the process a whole lot easier. Our expert divorce solicitors can advise you on how best to arrange your finances, giving careful consideration to your pension/s.

We always give our clients honesty and transparency, which are the key to having the least stressful divorce possible. Above all, we understand what you’re about to go through and will be by your side every step of the way, supporting you when you need it most. We are here to help you understand how you can protect your pension in a divorce in the UK.

Furthermore, we can help with all other aspects of family law, including setting up child arrangements and other financial agreements. We can also help you set up your Will and Lasting Power of Attorney.

Do you have questions about divorce and pensions, and want to know how to protect your pension in a divorce in the UK?

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.