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Pensions in Divorce and Separation

Pensions in Divorce and Separation


In most families, the two largest assets are the family home and a pension fund.


Disputes over sharing a pension can sometimes be very acrimonious between divorcing partners or when a civil partnership is dissolved.


It is crucial to take expert legal advice to protect your interest in a pension fund especially as the pension landscape is changing.


Under the Pensions Act 1995 and the Welfare Reform Act 1999, Divorce Courts can make judgments about how a pension is divided up between couples. If one party has, for example, given up their career to take on a homemaking or caring role in a family, they may not have a substantial pension pot themselves and a Divorce Court may feel they should be compensated as a result.


Pension rights can be lost if couples divorce. If one party has relied on the belief that in later years they will be entitled to their spouse’s pension including if their spouse dies then divorce or ending a civil partnership without sufficient pension provision for the future can potentially lead to financial hardship.


This can be especially relevant for couples who live together without marrying for long periods and if one partner is still legally married, it is highly likely that if they lose their partner through death, the pension will either die with them or go their next of kin or named next of kin, as the law states a surviving partner must have been legally able to marry at the time of their partner’s death in order to inherit their pension.


Whether couples who are not legally married separate or not, it is vital to seek legal advice about what would happen if the partner with the more substantial pension fund died, especially if no will exists.


When a couple divorces, assets are divided under Section 25 of the Joint Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. This does not automatically give one partner rights to the other’s pension, however especially if one partner has been awarded the marital home because of caring for children.


The courts may, however, give pensions a pecuniary value for ancillary relief proceedings. This means that the given value of the pension can be offset against other assets such as the family home to estimate a fair divorce settlement.


Pensions in divorce can be a highly complex area for couples to reach agreement on, however, so taking legal advice is crucial.


Duncan Lewis Divorce solicitors offer expert and detailed legal advice to individuals and couples on pension rights in divorce.


Duncan Lewis also has successful departments specialising in Family and Children Law and Litigation and has considerable expertise in international divorce settlements and marriage.


Duncan Lewis also offers lawyers supported family mediation services in disputes over pension funds in divorce.


Fixed Fee Legal Advice on Pensions in Divorce and Separation


Duncan Lewis Divorce solicitors offer an initial fixed fee for cases involving pensions in divorce. All other and further work would be carried out by way of our competitive hourly rates.


Duncan Lewis advises clients get in touch as soon as possible for an assessment of their case and advice on sharing a pension in divorce or if you have decided to separate.

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