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Divorce and Pensions – What do I need to know?

Divorce and pensions can be a tricky combination.  Pensions can play a large part in divorce negotiations. How and if they are split, is often the subject of much debate among divorcing couples and their respective solicitors.

The value of a pension can change over the years, due to various factors. This can make the ultimate value of a pension very difficult to predict. Accurately valuing a pension fund is notoriously challenging. Yet, as pensions can be a key part of financial settlements upon divorce,  valuations can be extremely important.

Things can be further complicated if a foreign pension is involved.


Divorce pension sharing orders may be on the increase

Back in August 2017, figures from the Ministry of Justice published in the Financial Times showed a 43% increase over the past year, in the number of divorcing couples who sought to split their pensions.

This rise in the number of pension sharing orders (court orders which split a pension when a couple gets divorced) shows us that more and more people seem to be sharing their pensions as part of their financial settlement upon divorce.


How are pensions divided?

In England and Wales, the total amount of your pension that you have built up both before and during your marriage, can be taken into account (with some exceptions – speak to a solicitor for more information).

How your pension/s will be divided depends on the rules of your particular pension scheme/s. How the value of your pension will be calculated depends on the type of pension you have.

Normally, pensions are valued using the “cash equivalent transfer value”. However, depending on the type of pension, this sometimes does not really give an accurate valuation.

It’s advisable to seek help from a professional in this area, as it can be highly complicated.


divorce and pensions


Foreign pensions can be treated differently

As touched on above, foreign pensions are not treated in the same way as domestic pensions when it comes to splitting them upon divorce.

In 2016, the case of Goyal v Goyal made it clear that pension sharing was not available when it comes to foreign pensions.

However, just because English courts do not have the power to make pension sharing orders in relation to a foreign pension, this does not mean that foreign pensions can never be split as part of the financial settlement upon divorce.

The judge in the case, Mr Justice Mostyn, said that just because English courts could not make a pension sharing order in relation to a foreign pension, it did not mean that there was not another way for couples to split a foreign pension as part of their divorce settlement.

If couples could reach an agreement which was backed by undertakings, then they could potentially obtain an order to share the pension in the foreign jurisdiction where the pension was located.

Foreign pension sharing and the potential pitfalls is a highly specialist area of law, so it is extremely important to seek expert advice from a divorce solicitor experienced in this area, if it could apply to you.


Do you need help with divorce and pensions?

Our expert divorce and family law solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues, including:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice on divorce and pensions

For more information on your divorce and pension options, call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or

Our expert divorce and family law solicitors offer a nationwide service. We have client meeting office facilities available, in order to have face-to-face client meetings / conferences as and when required in:

Leeds Office: Princes Exchange, Princes Square, Leeds, LS1 4BY

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

Halifax Office: Old Lane, Halifax, HX3 5WP

Huddersfield Office: Northumberland Street Huddersfield, HD1 1RL

Coventry Office: Warwick Road, Coventry, CV1 2DY

Canary Wharf Office: 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5LB

Please contact us for more details.

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13th February 2018

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