Do I have to share my pension when I divorce?

Once a divorce or dissolution petition is issued, it may be possible for either party to pursue an application for a financial settlement order. This application may be pursued at any stage until a final financial order is made, even after a final order or decree absolute. It is important therefore to be aware of these potential financial settlement claims when dealing with divorce or dissolution proceedings.

Parties are always encouraged to try and negotiate a financial agreement themselves, whether with the help of a solicitor, collaborative lawyer or mediator. To help you reach an agreement, your solicitor, collaborative lawyer or mediator will usually ask you both to exchange your financial information. This is often done in the form of a formal financial statement, but can sometimes be a list voluntarily agreed to be disclosed by each of you. There is an obligation on both parties to fully, frankly and openly disclose to the other their financial information, and to provide supporting documentation, such as payslips, pension details, mortgage statements etc as required. The information you will need to disclose includes details of income, properties, pensions, savings and investments, debts, and any other financial matters of relevance. It is important that full financial information is exchanged so that you can make an informed decision about whether a proposal or settlement is fair and reasonable.

If you cannot reach agreement, either party can apply to the Court for financial orders. The Court can make a number of different orders to resolve your finances after divorce/dissolution including:-

  • Property adjustment orders –dealing with whether a property should be transferred to one party or the other;
  • Orders for Sale - dealing with whether a property should be sold and if so when and what should happen to the proceeds of sale,
  • Lump sum orders – requiring one party to pay a cash lump sum, (sometimes by instalments), to the other party;
  • Pension attachment orders – requiring a percentage of a pension to be paid on retirement each month or each year to the other person;
  • Pension sharing orders – requiring a percentage of a total pension to be transferred or shared into a pension in the other party’s name;
  • Pension offsetting order – instead of taking a pension share or attachment, the value of a pension is offset against some other asset eg the home;
  • Periodical payments orders – an order for monthly payments to be paid by one party to the other, this can be for a child, or  for a spouse/civil partner
  • Interim periodical payments orders – financial support paid during the course of the proceedings and ending when the Court  makes the final order;
  • Orders for the sale or transfer of a business asset

Whether in your particular case a pension will have to be shared on divorce will depend on the circumstances on the case, and the financial positions of both of you. It would be important to get independent legal advice to understand what your options are, and to understand what each person may be entitled to.

To obtain advice from Rowlinsons, or to organise an initial free no obligation appointment, please telephone 01928 735333 and ask to speak with the family department.

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