How could getting divorced affect my pension and retirement income?

If you’ve divorced or have dissolved your civil partnership, or if you’re in the process of doing so, you might find you have less to retire on than you expected. Find out how to increase your pension as you approach retirement and how separating after you’ve retired might affect you.

If you’re already divorced or have dissolved your civil partnership

When you divorced or dissolved your civil partnership, any workplace or private pensions that you or your ex-partner (husband, wife or civil partner) had should have been taken into account when dividing the assets.

In Scotland, only the pension that was built up during marriage or the civil partnership is taken into account.

If you were already receiving your state pension when you divorced and you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016, any basic State Pension you had would not have been split at divorce or dissolution.

But any Additional State Pension you had might have been shared. Not everyone gets this, it’s the part that you could build up under the old system if you were employed and earning above a certain amount.

If you had not yet reached your State Pension age or you reached your State Pension age on or after 6 April 2016 when you divorced, you’ll get the new State Pension, and this cannot be shared on divorce.

If you’re entitled to an extra payment on top of your State Pension, known as a ‘protected payment’ (which normally accounts for Additional State Pension you had built up before 6 April 2016), then you might have been ordered to share this.

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The pension(s) might have been split (or shared) at the time of divorce or dissolution.

Or part of the pension(s) might have been ring-fenced to be paid out for one partner at retirement, or its/their value could have been offset against the value of other assets, such as the family home.

Reviewing your pensions before you retire

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If the pension(s) were shared when you got divorced or dissolved your civil partnership, check how much your pension(s) are worth now and work out how much you might be able to retire on.

If the pension was part of an attachment or earmarking order, check the terms of the order to find out what you’ll get and when.

If the pension(s) weren’t shared because you were awarded a larger share of the house or other assets instead, work out how much any pension savings you’ve built up separately are worth.

If you’re unlikely to have enough money to retire on, work out whether you can save any more.

Divorce or dissolution after you retire

Are you getting divorced or dissolving your civil partnership, or contemplating this, after you’ve retired? If you are, any pensions that you and your ex-partner have will be treated slightly differently than if you separate before you retire.

It’s best to get financial advice as this is a complicated area.

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If you’re considering getting divorced or dissolving your civil partnership, it’s a good idea to get advice from a solicitor (and sometimes a financial adviser or actuary as well). This will make sure the pension is valued and divided correctly.

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It’s important not to make assumptions about what you’ll be entitled to.

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Advicenow is a service provided by Law for Life which is a foundation for public legal education.

Your State Pension and divorce or dissolution

If you reached State pension age after 5 April 2016, your State Pension is based on your own National Insurance record.

This new State Pension can’t be shared if your marriage or civil partnership ends.

However, some people might have already built up an amount higher than the new State Pension. This is because of entitlement to the Additional State Pension, which applied to some employed people under the old system.

This is known as a ‘protected payment’ and a court could decide that this payment is eligible for sharing.

You can complete a BR20 form to get a valuation of your State Pensions, which will help the court make a decision. Get the form on the GOV.UK website

If you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016, any basic State Pension you have cannot be split at divorce or dissolution.

But any Additional State Pension you have can be been shared. Not everyone gets this, it’s the part that you could build up under the old system if you were employed and earning above a certain amount.

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What happens to death benefits?

Some pension arrangements provide death benefits such as a lump sum or a spouse’s/civil partner’s pension.

Each scheme will have their own rules on who will get what benefits. So, if someone is financially dependent on the member, or the member and their spouse/partner haven’t legally divorced or dissolved their civil partnership, they might still be entitled to a pension when the member dies.

The pension scheme will look at the circumstances of the relationship and the scheme rules to help them decide if anyone is entitled to any pension benefits.

If you’re currently receiving death benefits from a deceased member’s pension, these will not be shareable.

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MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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