Divorce in Military Families and Splitting a Pension

18 January 2018

Divorce in military families does not differ to divorce in a civilian family. The legal process very much stays the same, and as long as you live in the UK, then the divorce process can take place in the UK. However, there are often other more complex concerns which need to be considered when getting a divorce.

The divorce only severs the marital ties which exist between a couple. This means that both people are potentially at risk of a financial claim in the future if no financial order has been made or agreed.

Our Divorce Solicitors offer a 5% discount for serving and retired HM Armed Forces personnel and MoD employees. For details see Military Divorce Solicitors.

Splitting a Military Pension in Divorce

Often one of the largest assets in a military family is a pension, and therefore it is worth considering your options when making an agreement to settle your finances. The Court will consider the length of your marriage, the needs of both people and the matrimonial assets when making a financial. Therefore, each of these factors should play a part in any financial agreement that you make.

Further to this, military pensions can also differ vastly due to the benefits that they carry. For example, the ‘cash equivalent transfer value’ (the monetary value of the pension) may be surprisingly low, but the benefits which are attached to the pension may be more than you would expect.

With regards to splitting your pension in a divorce, you will have three options:

  1. Pension Offsetting – This involves calculating the value of your pension and giving the other person other assets to ‘off-set’ your pension. This is the only option if you want to keep all of your pension.

  2. Pension Attachment Order – This enables a share of the pension holder’s pension to be allocated to their spouse. When the pension is drawn down, the spouse will receive a percentage of the lump sum and a share of the monthly income. The pension holder has control of when the pension is drawn down and what amount is taken as a lump sum.

  3. Pension Sharing Order – When the divorce is completed and the Decree Absolute has been granted, a share of the pension is allocated to the pension holder’s spouse.

Child Maintenance Payments in Military Divorce

There are many other considerations for military families, however the main one aside from pensions is often child maintenance. Typically military families move around and as a result the children often attend boarding schools. There is always the question of who is going to pay the school fees when parents separate. British Armed Forces personnel are generally entitled to a certain reduction for private tuition fees but the fact remains that there could still be significant school fees to pay.

If the parents are not in agreement as to who should pay for specific items, such as school fees, then it’s possible to ask the Court to make an order to include Periodical Payments. Periodical Payments allow for the person with the larger income to make a contribution towards school fees, thereby enabling the children to remain at the same school.

This payment can lie outside of the general responsibility known as child maintenance. A Court can order that an additional payment to cover school fees or other costs can be made in addition to child maintenance.

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