New national guidance for pensions on divorce published

A major new guide to the treatment of pensions on divorce has been published by the Pension Advisory Group (PAG).

The long-awaited report brings guidance to family judges, lawyers, pension experts and divorcing parties, encouraging fairer settlements and helping to manage liability.

PAG is a multi-disciplinary group of professionals, including The University of Manchester’s Professor of Social Gerontology and MICRA Director Debora Price, one of four academic advisors to the group and a lead author of the report. The PAG came together to produce a clear good practice guide to address the shortfall in understanding from all sides of how to treat pensions on divorce. Endorsed by the Family Justice Council and the President of the Family Division, the report has been overwhelmingly welcomed by judges and legal and financial practitioners who grapple with these issues every day, and is already transforming legal practice. The Guide is Free to download. An easy-to-read guide aimed at divorcing couples and those who represent themselves in court is now in preparation.

Supported by the Nuffield Foundation, the group’s aim was to create a guide that demystifies the jargon of pensions, and improve communication amongst the professionals working in this field across England & Wales.

The guide’s creation stemmed from the need to address the wide variation of financial settlements on divorce nationally which reveals a lack of understanding of how parties and professionals should deal with the valuation, sharing or offsetting of pension fund assets. Next to property, pensions are often the largest asset in a divorce settlement, and their complexity is laden with risk which has in recent years caught the attention of the claims management sector. The widespread deficiency in knowledge leaves people at risk of inappropriate divorce settlements and poverty in old age. It also leaves professionals vulnerable to potential claims being brought against them.

“The aim of this guide is to help judges and practitioners navigate their way with more confidence through the tricky field of pensions on divorce, and ultimately improve the fairness of outcomes for those going through divorce,” said project lead Hilary Woodward from Cardiff University.

“We know that five out of six divorces do not feature a pension share, and that this is a very difficult and emotional topic for divorcing couples,” said Professor Debora Price from the University of Manchester. “We hope that with this report, there will be better understanding for everyone concerned about how important it is to think about the value of pensions and income in later life, even in the heat of a divorce.”

Visit the website for the guide and for more information on PAG.