Posted on 19th September 2018

Age UK has warned that thousands of women going through divorce could be facing a poorer retirement because they are unaware of a legal entitlement to their ex-spouse’s private pension.

Both men and women could be missing out on large sums of money as pension assets often get left out of divorce settlements, meaning that one partner is worse off than they should be in later life, claims the charity.

Age UK say that divorcing couples who do not go to court currently get no automatic right to know their spouse’s pension value at divorce. The charity is now calling for urgent reforms to the divorce process so that private pensions are split fairly.

Their action comes at the same time as the Government has signalled that divorce laws may potentially be reformed, removing the element of fault from the process.

Many couples understand the importance of seeking legal advice for the formal process of ending a marriage, however a large proportion still choose to adopt a DIY approach when it comes to money, property and other financial assets

Juliet Allen, a direct access barrister at No5 Barristers’ Chambers, said: “When a relationship is deemed irreparable or irreconcilable, it is prudent to seek specialist legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Divorce and separation are highly stressful situations for all parties, especially when couples are trying to prioritise the wellbeing of their children.

“Equally difficult is the assessment and potential separation of family finances. Both parties will be required to produce full financial disclosure so that all matrimonial capital – property, business interests, savings and pensions – is included.”

Informal agreements, whether written or verbal, will not protect either spouse against the subject being reassessed at any time, unless it has formally been drawn up and ratified by a court.

Juliet added: “It is therefore vitally important that divorcing couples attempting to reach an agreement on their financial arrangements ensure that any such agreement is turned into an order approved by the courts and we would advise that anyone seeking a divorce takes legal advice.”

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