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Divorce and Finances: How divorce affects finances?

We have seen an increasing number of older couples wanting advice regarding their divorce and finances.  Although 2017 saw the lowest divorce rates of opposite-sex couples since 1973, divorce rates actually increased compared to 2015 for men aged over 45 years old and woman aged over 50 years old.

As couples approach retirement age, their pensions can often be their most valuable assets, other than the family home. Indeed, one of the first questions we are asked by our older clients is, how their divorce and finances are treated.


Pensions and divorce

Just like the family home when considering divorce and finances, pensions can form part of the financial settlement when considering divorce and finances.


For an older couple, discussions surrounding pensions can often make up a large proportion of the negotiations, as pensions can often form a significant percentage of the assets within a marriage.


It is possible to divide most pensions upon divorce. It’s important to note here that the basic State Pension cannot be split. The rules surrounding pension division can be complex, so it is important to seek advice from a solicitor relating to your individual circumstances.


How do I know the value of my pension during divorce?

Getting an accurate valuation of a pension, for the purpose of divorce and finances, can be tricky. Obviously, knowing a pension’s value is vital in order to have meaningful negotiations regarding the financial settlement. It is often necessary to involve an actuary to ensure that a pension’s value is accurately reflected.


Pension sharing after divorce

It may be possible to get a share of your spouse’s pension/s (or they could get a share of yours). Your share of the pension could either be transferred into your name or you may be able to join your spouse’s scheme, instead.


If your spouse has already reached retirement age and is getting their pension, but you are not yet old enough, you could agree to get a share of their pension further down the line. This is known as deferred pension sharing.


Deferred lump sum

Instead of sharing your spouse’s pension, you could agree that you will get a lump sum of money from your spouse’s pension when they reach retirement age.


Offsetting pensions may be possible

In some circumstances, a couple may agree that, as part of the financial settlement, one spouse may get a larger share of other assets and the other spouse will keep their pension.


Whether this is viable will depend upon a number of factors, including the value of the other assets compared to the value of the pension/s.


Pensions and divorce

These are just some of the ways that pensions can be dealt with upon divorce and finances. The rules can differ for couples who have already retired and are already receiving their pensions when they start the divorce process.


For older couples, pensions can often form a significant part of the financial settlement when addressing divorce and finances. For those in this situation, it is highly recommended that you seek independent legal advice, on what can be a very complex area of law.


Divorce and finances – how are they decided?

The Mail Online featured an article about a number of women who had lost their home and were left with little money after their late-life divorce. According to the Office of National Statistics, divorce rates among the over 60’s has risen over recent decades.


Decide your finances after divorce between yourselves

You and your spouse can discuss your divorce and finances and come to an agreement without any outside intervention. However, it’s always a good idea to get legal advice, especially if your assets are particularly complex or some are outside of the UK.



A mediator – an independent third party – can help to further discussions between you and your spouse with the aim of reaching an agreement about your divorce and finances. Again, it’s advisable to speak to a specialist solicitor about your situation to make sure that you fully understand your rights.


Collaborative Law

Collaborative law where both you and your spouse, together with your respective solicitors, will meet and discuss what should happen to your finances after divorce. If you’d rather not meet with your spouse, you can get your solicitor to negotiate on your behalf instead.


Court Proceedings

If you can’t reach an agreement any other way, you can let the court decide what should happen to your finances. Depending on the complexity of your case, this could be a long and costly process. However, this is sometimes the only option left. You could also consider something called Arbitration, where you pay a professional to decide your finances after divorce for you. This can work out costing less than going to court and also has the added benefit of your agreement being kept completely private, particularly attractive if you are a high net worth individual or a celebrity.


Is it going to be a 50/50 split of my fiances after divorce?

Every case differs and it is rarely that simple. For example, if one of you is going to be the main carer for the children then you may need a larger percentage so you can house the children. If you have a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement the court should look at taking this into account, too. The court will also take into account how long you’ve been married.


Will I get maintenance once I divorce?

This is again decided on a case by case basis. When deciding this, the court will look at income and outgoings for each person and any shortfalls that appear. Maintenance could be awarded for a short period or indefinitely.


Will I have to sell my house after my divorce?

Whether or not the house will have to be sold as part of the divorce settlement will depend on a number of factors, including whether it’s affordable for one person to keep, what’s best for the children and how much of the capital is tied up in it.

Getting legal advice as soon as possible can help you to understand your rights and what might be the potential outcome of your divorce finances settlement. It can also help you to feel more in control in what can be a particularly emotional and turbulent time.


Sorting through the financial aspects of a divorce has a reputation as a drawn out and costly process. With Gary Lineker reportedly calling for a “mathematical equation” to simplify the financial side of divorce, we look at ways to make sure your divorce goes through as straightforwardly as possible.


Go it alone to resolve your divorce and finances

In England and Wales, there’s always the option to sort out your divorce with your partner with absolutely no outside help.

This could be a viable option if you have no dependent children, both of your assets are about the same or you’ve been married for less than five years.

However, if you are a high net individual and your divorce and finances are more complicated, you may benefit by getting professional advice.


A mediator may help agree your divorce and finances

It is possible to hire a mediator – an outside third party – to help you negotiate the terms of your divorce and reach an agreement suitable for both parties.

This is generally more likely to be successful in cases where your divorce and finances are simpler and both parties have similar amounts of assets.


Professional help can actually save you money

Emotions can run high during a divorce, with worries about future financial security only adding to the already upsetting and distressing time when marriages break down.

Many people can find the help of an outside professional invaluable during the divorce process. The time taken for a divorce to be finalised can significantly increase if the two parties can’t agree on how to separate their finances after divorce.

Having a solicitor negotiating on your behalf can actually make the process much more straightforward and even easier emotionally, as you are not constantly having to negotiate directly with your ex-partner.

If you are a high net worth individual with assets and investments both in the UK and abroad, a solicitor can provide invaluable advice during this often complex split of finances. 

In some cases, legal advice is essential to make sure you don’t actually lose money by giving the other party more than they are entitled to. What they think is fair isn’t necessarily what they are entitled to in law.


It’s not all or nothing

Sorting your finances and divorce isn’t an all or nothing situation. You can decide only to have a few advice sessions with a solicitor then complete the paperwork yourself or you can enlist the advice of a solicitor whilst at the same time hiring a mediator.

You could also ask your solicitor to arrange informal meetings with you and your partner to discuss how to split the finances after divorce where both of your solicitors would be present. This could provide you with the ability to negotiate with your ex-partner whilst at the same time having the safety net of professional legal advice.

Getting specialist legal advice as early as possible during your divorce finance proceedings, especially if you are a high net worth individual with a large amount of assets, can help to simplify the proceedings in the long run.


How can our expert divorce solicitors help you with your divorce and finances?

Our expert divorce solicitors can help you with a range of legal issues:


Contact our expert divorce solicitors for advice

For more information on divorce and finances call our divorce solicitors on 0845 862 5001 or email


Our expert divorce 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 our:

Leeds Office: St Andrew House, The Headrow, Leeds, LS1 5JW

Sheffield Office: Pinfold Street, The Balance, Sheffield, S1 2GU

Manchester Office: King Street, Manchester, M2 4PD

Wakefield Office: Market Walk, Wakefield, WF1 1QR

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

London Office: 01 Nothumberland Avenue, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5BW

Please contact us for more details.

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08th November 2018

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