Pensions and divorce, why it should not be overlooked…

bank with coins and green sprout

A survey carried out by Which? in November 2021 found that only 15% of divorcing couples include pensions in their financial settlement. For many families pensions are the second largest asset after the family home and if ignored can lead to one spouse struggling financially later in life.

Going through a divorce can be a stressful and emotional time and understandably the priority for many separating couples is where they will live and how they will fund their living costs.  Retirement can seem a long way off and for couples negotiating a settlement without legal advice, discussions tend to be centred around the family home and the family business. Pensions are also overlooked as they are a notoriously complex area and require specialist advice.

Overlooking pension assets is likely to impact women in particular as they will have smaller pension pots  as a result of taking a break from their careers to focus on raising children. It is therefore very important for couples and especially women to think about their long term financial needs, obtain a valuation of all pension assets as well as a state pension forecast and seek legal advice from a family solicitor at an early stage.

Once you have details of all the pension assets, what are your options?  Since 2000 it has been possible to divide pensions through a pension sharing order whereby one spouse receives an agreed percentage of the other spouse’s pension.  This is the preferred way of dealing with pensions. Any pension accrued before the marriage or after separation or a pension already in payment can also be shared. A pension sharing order cannot however be made in respect of pension assets located abroad.

Another option is offsetting whereby one spouse keeps their pension with the other spouse retaining another asset. Due to the difficulties in comparing pension and non-pension assets it is extremely important to seek legal advice before agreeing this option as the outcome may not produce a fair outcome and could lead to one spouse losing out.

Pensions are undoubtedly a complex area and divorcing couples should take legal advice at an early stage to ensure a fair distribution of pension wealth. Depending on the type of pension scheme and the value of the pension assets it may  be necessary to seek expert advice from a pension actuary.  Our family solicitors work closely with a number of pension actuaries who can advise on the most appropriate and cost effective way to divide pensions in your particular circumstances.

If you are in the process of negotiating a financial settlement with your spouse which includes pension assets please contact a member of our family team for further information.

To discuss this, or any other Family Law related matter, please contact Dimple on 01483 887766, email or start a live chat today.

*This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.


Dimple Patel

Associate, Family Law

Dimple is an Associate Solicitor in the family law department. She qualified as a solicitor in 2007 after reading law at City University and has...


Associate, Family Law

Dimple Patel

Dimple is an Associate Solicitor in the family law department. She qualified as a solicitor in 2007 after reading law at City University and has worked as a family solicitor in both Surrey and London. She joined Hart Brown in 2022.

Her practice involves advising on all aspects of family law and in particular the financial aspects of divorce and dissolution of civil partnership. She has extensive experience in negotiating financial settlements and advises clients with substantial assets including family businesses, pensions, trusts, foreign assets and inherited wealth as well as clients with more modest income and assets. She also deals with the variation and enforcement of existing financial orders.

Dimple assists clients to protect assets and family wealth through prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. She also assists cohabiting couples with cohabitation agreements, financial and property disputes as well as financial claims for children of unmarried parents under Schedule 1 Children Act.

Dimple has considerable experience advising on arrangements for children following divorce and separation including relocation of children both within England and Wales and abroad. She also assists clients where there are concerns around domestic abuse through personal protection injunctions such as Non-Molestation and Occupations Orders.

Dimple is a member of Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers and other professionals committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes. She aims to provide practical, tailored advice to enable her clients to make informed choices with a focus on early settlement.

Dimple often receives wonderful feedback from her clients, here are just a few testimonials.

“Dimple is very professional and reliable. I was able to always count on her excellent advice, quick responses to my queries and sympathetic balanced communications with all parties. I would whole heartedly recommend her to anyone dealing with family legal issues”

“Dimple quickly understood the challenges I was facing and we spoke a lot on the phone which I found helpful and calming. She is very bright, professional and warm and just the person one needs when dealing with difficult and unfamiliar issues. Dimple is committed, has good judgment and eye for detail. She is a highly competent solicitor and I highly recommend her.”

“Thank you so much for your help, support and advice through this difficult process. I appreciate all you’ve done and look forward to a brighter future, thanks to your help”

“Thank you so much for everything you’ve done for me. You were so easy to work with at every stage of the game and I really appreciated having you to turn to. I still can’t believe how smoothly everything went! And the good news is, I’m genuinely finding happiness again in my life.”

“Thank you for your assistance and support over the last few years in relation to my difficult and challenging divorce proceedings and help to conclude the child matters with the best result I could have hoped for. I appreciate all your efforts on my case. I am so happy that I am spending quality time with my son and that he is getting to know his extended paternal family. Thank you for helping to make this happen.”