It is often the case when people are divorcing, that they concentrate on the division of the family home and savings. There may also be family businesses involved.
What can often be forgotten is what should happen with the couple's pensions. Perhaps it is because they do not see an immediate, short-term benefit, but pensions are extremely important assets that cannot be overlooked.
It is the role of the family lawyer to take a holistic approach, to help clients to understand the importance of pensions for their future. For this reason, it is essential that expert financial advice is sought at the outset of negotiations, and not when an agreement as to sharing pension assets has been reached.
The expertise of a pension actuary is essential in such cases, especially where pension funds are significant. An actuary advises as to what pension share produces a fair outcome, whether it is through capital or income.
Armed with that information, a client should be referred to a financial expert, to advise a client as to cashflow in retirement and what pension share will be needed to sustain a desired standard of living. By taking these extra steps during negotiations in divorce, this will provide an invaluable insight for clients to reach a settlement.
"It’s common that one party will have significant pension provision, and the other party may have little or none. Clearly, this could be a relevant factor in any divorce. There are several options available to the Family court when dealing with pensions at divorce – pension sharing, earmarking and offsetting against other assets5. It can often be a very complex issue so, as well as hiring a family lawyer, it would be advisable for couples to contact a financial adviser to walk them through the pension valuation and financial process. You mustn’t underestimate the value of pensions at this time.”