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How to take account of your pension on divorce

How to take account of your pension on divorce is an often overlooked issue today, according to Cheshire divorce solicitors Stonehewer Moss, as many people are unrepresented and the government has issued statistics that only 11% of financial court orders following divorce include pensions. Accredited solicitor at the Northwich solicitors, Michael Brennan, believes the following factors contribute to this surprising statistic:-

  1. Pressure/ guilt. There is a perception that pensions are untouchable or should not be touched as they really belong to only one of the spouses or ought to be left untouched;
  2. Difficulty. Most family solicitors of some seniority will have listened to many presentations by Actuaries and IFAs to explain the structure of pensions and remain baffled. They therefore scare the lawyers and, if truth be told, many judges.
  3. Cost. If a spouse does not freely agree to disclose the capital value of the pension it could cost a lot of money seeking an order through the court.
  4. Off setting by taking more of the other assets and leaving the pension.

In consequence of the factors set out above, Michael believes coming years could create unfair outcomes, particularly following the pension freedoms recently introduced for those over 55. Michael says,” A pension is not an untouchable assets or one that is difficult to value at the time of separation. The court have regulations that pension companies must carry into effect when a request for valuation in divorce is made. The figure produce may be criticised by expert in the pension industry but it is a simple capital figure and you may be surprised to find that it dwarfs the value of the other assets in the marriage. Off setting seems a simple solution but it could over or under compensate either party to the marriage and best practice by family lawyers suggests off setting is rarely the best option, certainly not in 89% of cases. Using the pension freedoms to fund a settlement could be tax inefficient and caution should be exercised before committing to it. A pension share is simple and if carried into effect correctly, will be likely to achieve the fair outcome required by the court than the other options available. If the case is difficult, there are experts who can be instructed to help reach the best outcome. That expense is rarely needed and the cost of seeking a pension fund should be explored with a solicitor before it is assumed that the benefits gained by a pension share cannot be afforded. Many cases can settle with the assistance of out of court options like mediation or collaborative law and a spouse who refuses to engage in such settlement options might be trying to pull the wool over the eyes of their spouse. Costs orders are sometimes available, particularly if disclosure of the pension fund value has been unreasonably withheld.”

How to take account of your pension on divorce need not cause guilt, difficulty or  high cost and should be explored with a specialist divorce solicitor before you settle your divorce finances.

For advice negotiation and representation in divorce finance cases please call 01606 872200 e mail or visit



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Stonehewer Moss Solicitors, Citadel House, Solvay Road, Northwich, Cheshire, CW8 4DP

Solicitors in Northwich covering Chester, Crewe, Knutsford, Macclesfield, Middlewich, Northwich, Runcorn, Sandbach, Warrington, Winsford, and across Cheshire.

Stonehewer Moss Solicitors is a trading style of the Stonehewer Moss Limited, Registered in England No. 542 6583 and PIPLaw
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