Couples reaching their own Divorce settlement must never forget their pensions…

At Carr & Co we encourage couples who are considering separating to try and resolve the financial aspects of the Divorce with open and frank negotiations either between themselves, at mediation, with the assistance of Collaborative Law or through the more traditional route of corresponding through each parties respective solicitors.

Whilst you will see from our Family Law pages that we can assist you with all of the above what happens when you reach an agreement yourselves, without the assistance of a solicitor?

We would strongly advise that in reaching an agreement with your former partner or spouse that you are fully aware of both of your financial circumstances. This will include having sight of certain documentation. As family pracitioners we follow certain guidelines and we would usually expect documentation to include; 12 months bank statements of all accounts held, details of any liabilities held (for example credit card or loans), redemption figure for the mortgage along with three independent valuations of any property held, Cash Equivalent Transfer Value of any pensions held, details of any shares, savings or any other assets held, three months wage slips and P60 for last financial year, valuation of any business or business interests.

Although the above is not an exhaustive list it is a guide as to what you would expect to see before conducting negotiations and reaching a financial settlement.

If you are considering negotiating yourself then why not have us on board in the background asssiting and advising you as to what would be an appropriate and fair settlement. This would save you with the costs of solicitors negotiating but at the same time will give you piece of mind that you are on the right track, or that the settlement you are considering is far below what would be considered as fair. We can also ensure that any agreement reached is drafted into an appropriate format to outline the agreement reached and ensure it is legally binding upon you both.

Please do not forget to include your Pensions and possible entitlement when negotiating. For many spouses who have supported the other who went out to work by raising the children, then you may need to consider “topping up” your state pension by transferring some of your spouse’s national insurance contributions to your state pension. We can assist you with this to ensure you receive what the law says you should. On Divorce you would not require your spouses agreement for the above as the DWP should automatically do this for you.

Other private pensions should not be ignored either. Under a law that came into effect in December 2000, spouses were for the first time entitled to half of the main earner’s occupational pension on divorce when courts divided their assets. In most cases, the pot is split into two new funds at the time of divorce to achieve a clean break.

These pension-sharing orders were seen as improvement on earlier schemes where retirement funds could be offset against other assets at the time of the divorce, or where one spouse could receive a share of the other’s pension when they retired.

In total, more than one in 10 financial settlements ordered by judges after spouses split up now includes an arrangement to divide their main earner’s pension pot, a decade after the orders were introduced.  However, where parties reach their own settlement they may not take into account the Pension issues.

Experts say the rise could be down to the fact that, following the recession, the retirement fund of the main breadwinner could be a household’s biggest asset, with cash in short supply and houses worth less money.

We can of course advise you regarding any Pension Settlement and we can also assist on drafting any agreement reached. This is however quite a complex area of law and we would strongly advise you to seek appropriate legal advice regarding the implementation of a Pension Order. We have family expert advisers on hand to assist you every step of the way so do not hesitate to contact us today!