Can We Split a Pension Years after Divorce?
31 July 2018
When you get a divorce, unless you put a Financial Order in place to deal with the division of money and assets then you and your ex will still be financially tied to one another. You can put a Financial Order in place in the form of a Pension Sharing Order to divide your pension at any point after the divorce has been completed, even if many years have passed.
Financial Orders in Divorce
In England and Wales, when the Decree Absolute is issued in divorce proceedings, this legally ends the marriage between the couple. Many divorcing couples wrongly assume that this is the end of the matter, not realising that the Decree Absolute doesn't end the financial commitment between them.
Without a Financial Order, one person could make a claim to the other's finances years down the line. There have been cases where an estranged ex has successfully claimed a share of their ex's new found wealth, even though this was accumulated long after the marriage ended.
A Financial Order will set our exactly what should happen to each person's finances, as well as any joint finances and it will make this decision legally binding.
Dividing a Pension Years after Divorce
If you or your ex have a pension that the two of you have agreed to split, but you never got round to formalising it, then you can put a Financial Order in place to take care of this. The length of time that has passed since the Decree Absolute was issued is irrelevant.
It may be that your split was amicable and, while you always intended to share the pension between you, there was no urgency as retirement seemed such a long way off.
It's always a good idea to get all financial matters fully resolved as soon as possible after divorce, as both people are leaving themselves open to a financial claim being made against them. Even if the split is amicable, you never know what's around the corner so it's better to be safe than sorry.
However, if you find yourself in the situation where you have been divorced for some time and the finances have never been sorted out for whatever reason, then it's still possible to do this. There's no time limit on how soon after your divorce an application for a Financial Order has to be submitted to the Court.
Pension Sharing Orders
There are a number of reasons why it may be necessary to share one person's pension on divorce. It may be that the other person gave up work to raise children, so doesn't have a pension of their own, or it may be that their own pension is not sufficient to see them through their retirement.
The pension can be divided using a Pension Sharing Order. This will only take into account the pension contributions that were made during the marriage. Any contributions that have been made since the marriage ended will not be included.
To apply for the Pension Sharing Order, both people will need to obtain independent legal advice from separate Family Law Solicitors. Once the terms of the Order have been agreed, this will be drawn up by a Solicitor and submitted to the Court for review. If the Court feels that the agreement is fair, then they will approve this and grant the Order.
The pension provider needs to be notified in advance that the Pension Sharing Order is going to be made. Once granted, the sealed Order from the Court will need to be sent to the pension provider, so that they can then split the pension.
The pension holder and their ex should decide in advance whether they would like the pension to be transferred to a new fund within the same pension firm, or into a fund at a separate pension firm. It's important to note that some pension providers don't allow external transfers, so it's a good idea to check this beforehand.
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