Family Law Solicitors Newcastle and Sunderland

What has my pension got to do with it?

Newcastle Solicitors – Divorce and Pensions.

Some of my clients become a little upset when I advise them that we need to consider their pension as part of a divorce settlement. They often assume that their spouse/civil partner will automatically take half of their hard earned pension. This was not helped some years ago by Coronation Street. Mike Baldwin had only been married to his wife for about six months and there was his solicitor advising him that his wife would be entitled to half of everything! I rang Granada television to protest. I’ll never forget the humourless man on the other end of the phone “It’s only a drama madam”.

Pensions upon divorce/dissolution become very important.

The best way to finalise all financial issues between a couple is by way of a Consent Order. This is an Order drafted by a solicitor following full disclosure of all financial assets and following a negotiated settlement. It is placed before a judge for approval. If the judge is sure that the order is fair to the parties then it will be sealed. Once sealed neither party can seek further assets from the other in the future. Clients like this certainty. They know that they can move on with their lives.

In order to obtain a Consent Order a judge would also need to see the accompanying document known as a Statement of information. This sets out the parties’ income, capital assets and pension valuations.
If matters are not agreed between parties then the matter may well be dealt with by way of a contested court case. It is obligatory under those circumstances to produce all pension valuations in respect of both parties. Even old frozen pensions. In the North East over the last twenty years old shipyard and mineworkers pensions have featured heavily in divorce settlements.

Dealing with pensions is very complicated. At Emmersons solicitors our role is to minimise the amount that will be given to the other party. Don’t forget that their own pension must also be taken into account.

There are many factors which determine how much of your pension, if any, your spouse/civil partner should receive. How long have you been married compared with how many years it took you to build up your pension? How old are you and your spouse? What is the earning capacity of you both now?
There is a huge difference between the value of a state sector pension and a private pension. There are differences between state sector schemes. eg. Forces pensions are going to be different to teacher’s pension schemes or NHS pension schemes.

Pensions need to be valued properly. In the current economic climate there have been some big surprises in the last year. I am aware of one pension that doubled its value in only three months.

If you are separating then pension values need to be requested quite quickly. It can take longer to obtain a pension valuation than any other financial information. Don’t do this yourself before you have had legal advice. You are only entitled to one free pension valuation a year from your scheme. If you request the information the wrong way or at the wrong time you may be left with charges to pay.

If you need help with your divorce or separation, then why not contact us for a Next Steps Divorce Advice Session and to see how we can help you. We can be contacted on:

Family Law Specialists Solicitors Newcastle:  0191 284 6989

Family Law Specialists Solicitors Sunderland: 0191 567 6667

or email us:

Or complete our Online Enquiry Form and select Family Law


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