As my colleague Claire Hunter explained in her article here (“what will happen to my pension during divorce“), pensions can be some of the most valuable assets in a marriage or civil partnership. The collective values of the pensions can often exceed the value of other assets, even the family home.
And yet pensions have an air of mystery about them. They are frequently misunderstood. Many people may assume wrongly that they can safely ignore them until they are approaching retirement or just avoid thinking about them because they are perceived as complicated. As such, their value is often underestimated and their importance overlooked. This can create a veritable cauldron of confusion when pensions come to be investigated and adjusted in the context of a divorce.
Thankfully help is at hand. In July 2019 the Pensions Advisory Group (PAG) published its report on the treatment of pensions on divorce. PAG is a multidisciplinary group of professionals specialising in financial remedies and pensions on divorce and was tasked with providing in depth guidance about how to approach pensions on divorce with the aim of promoting understanding and encouraging fairer settlements. The resulting report, running to 176 pages, is comprehensive but is not exactly easy bedtime reading, especially for someone embroiled in the stressful atmosphere of a divorce.
So, it was with open arms that we welcomed A survival guide to Pensions on divorce, which was published in January 2021 by Advicenow. This guide, which is available to download at https://www.advicenow.org.uk/pensions, was written in collaboration with PAG but with the non-legal individual in mind. The resulting guidance is therefore clear, free of jargon and more readily understandable. It constitutes a valuable tool for those going through divorce to understand why pensions matter, what the law says about pensions on divorce and how they can be dealt with and where to get appropriate expert advice.
However, whilst the guide is a useful tool, it is not necessarily a substitute for legal advice and the need for specialist legal advice should not be overlooked. Navigating the minefield of divorce, especially where pensions are involved, can be tricky at the best of times and support from a specialist solicitor can be invaluable and reap dividends in the long run.
Published on 6 April 2021