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Pensions and divorce - why failing to discuss a pension could leave you significantly out of pocket

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What happens to my pension when I die?

There can often be a huge discrepancy between the pension wealth of men and women, recent research suggests that, on average, men aged between 65 to 69 have almost six times the pension wealth of their partners.

Going through the divorce process can be both physically and emotionally draining and it’s not uncommon for some divorcing couples to overlook their pension assets to keep things as straightforward as possible; a “what’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is yours” mentality.

Unfortunately, this attitude can often leave many women massively short-changed and struggling financially later in life. According to a recent report, tens of thousands of women are missing out on more than £1 billion every year by failing to split pensions on divorce. Furthermore, only 15% of divorcing couples include pensions in their financial settlement.

Pensions can quite often be the largest assets of a marriage, but prior to December 2000 they could not be shared on divorce. It was only then that a change in the law enabled a spouse to have a share of their partner’s pension. Prior to that, pensions were not ignored or forgotten but simply considered when dividing the other assets. For historical divorces this could have led to significant injustices.

Pensions can be complex, and it is important that they are fully understood in terms of their benefits and their values in order to get a fair share. Today, spouses need to disclose the details of their funds but misunderstanding their value or their retirement benefits, can lead to a spouse achieving less than a fair settlement. 

It is crucial that any divorcing couples speak openly and frankly about their pension savings and take legal advice from a solicitor about how those assets may be shared upon divorce. If you would like to speak to a member of our specialist divorce law team please call us on 0161 696 6193,