Legal Eagle column: What happens to your pension in a divorce?

Rebecca Gladwin works in the family department at Neves Solicitors and helps clients through the financial side of divorce. She explains what happens to your pension…

Since the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999 the courts have had the power to share pensions between a couple in divorce or dissolution settlements.

Despite this, according to new research by Scottish Widows, seven in ten couples do not consider pensions during divorce proceedings.

In fact the research suggests that during divorce or dissolution proceedings, people are more concerned that the settlement will result in them losing a pet (13%) than sharing a pension (9%).

This is despite the average married couple’s retirement pot totalling £132,000.

These statistics are extremely concerning and suggest that despite the introduction of pension sharing nearly 20 years ago, they are not being considered in matrimonial settlements.

This is likely the result from a lack of understanding of how a pension can be split in divorce or dissolution proceedings, which include a pension sharing order or a pension attachment order.

The most common way a pension is shared in a settlement is a pension sharing order. This splits the pension assets immediately providing each partner with their own share of the pension pot.

This provides for a clean break between them so that each partner has the freedom to do what they want with their share independently of the other.

While some pensions are relatively straightforward, there are others which carry additional benefits and can be extremely complicated.

It is therefore very important that expert legal and financial advice is taken at an early stage in the separation so that a valuable asset is not simply ignored due to a lack of understanding.

On 1st March I will be speaking as part of the ‘Positive Divorce Day’ at the Hotel Mercure Abbey Hill alongside other professions providing advice on finances and dealing with the emotions involved.

The day was created with the aim of providing the answer to all of your questions regarding divorce in one room.

If you are interested in finding out more please go to

If you are facing a relationship breakdown and need some advice, talk to Rebecca on 01908 304560.

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