I was left with nothing when I divorced my husband, so am I entitled to a share of his private pension? Steve Webb replies

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My husband and I got divorced. Our divorce did not state that we could not share the pension, so I was wondering if I am entitled to part of his personal pension?

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Since 2016 I cannot use his National Insurance contribution and at that time I had nothing and four children.

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Pension and Divorce Question: Our divorce did not state that we cannot share pension, so I was wondering if I am entitled to part of his personal pension?

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Steve Webb replies: Sharing a pension upon divorce is a complex area and it is always best to seek professional advice if possible.

Although paying for advice may seem expensive, the cost can be recovered many times over if you get a better deal as a result. But let me give you some general information on how the process works.

With regard to state pension, as you suggest, the status of divorced people depends on whether you have reached state pension age on or after 6th April 2016.

If you have reached pension age before that date you are covered under the ‘old’ state pension system.

Under that system, a person who was still divorced at pension age (so had not remarried) should receive benefits from her ex-spouse’s contributions up to the date of their divorce. These can be used to boost their basic state pension.

Steve Webb: How to Ask Former Pensions Minister Questions About Your Retirement Savings Check Out the Box Below

Steve Webb: How to Ask Former Pensions Minister Questions About Your Retirement Savings Check Out the Box Below

In addition, any ‘extra’ state pension (often called SERPS) that a former spouse is entitled to may be shared, but only as part of a formal divorce agreement signed by a court.

Those who divorce *after attaining the pension age* can get their basic state pension reviewed, but for this to happen, they must inform the DWP of their divorce.

For those who reach pension age on or after 6 April 2016, the new state pension system has little provision for divorcees.

In particular, there is no general provision for using a former spouse’s contribution to promote his own state pension.

However, if your ex-spouse had a relatively large state pension entitlement (one in higher than the standard flat rate) then any excess amount above the flat rate can be shared.

Again, it has to be part of a formal divorce settlement.

In the context of private pensions, there are several ways in which a divorcee can take advantage of their former spouse’s pension, and different rules may apply in Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom.

In England and Wales, you can benefit from your former spouse’s pension in three main ways:

  • ‘pension sharing’, where you receive part of the value of your former spouse’s pension at the time of divorce; This may be, for example, through a transfer from their pension to a new or existing pension in your name, or by making you a member of their Professional Pension Scheme in your own right; It is available for divorce after 1st December 2000.
  • ‘offsetting’, where your ex-spouse’s pension is valued and you receive something extra *instead of* part of their pension; For example, you may be able to negotiate a larger portion of the value of the family home in exchange for not claiming part of your former spouse’s pension;
  • Pension ‘fixation’ (technically known as an ‘attachment order’), where you are given the right to receive a portion of the pension from your former spouse’s pension plan; For example, if they are a member of a Professional Pension Plan, you will receive part of their pension when they receive it; This approach is much less used today than it was before, not least because it does not provide a ‘clean break’ from your ex-spouse.

Each approach has pros and cons, and the assessment of pension rights is a highly complex business, so it is very important to get professional advice, if possible.

If you had a court order at the time of the divorce, it would generally be very difficult to reopen that agreement, even if no allowance for pension was paid at that time.

However, if there was no court order at that time, it may now be possible to get a court order, and it can take account of the pension.

But if it’s been a long time since you’ve been divorced, the court may not think it’s appropriate to open things up at this stage. Again you will have to seek legal advice.

A very helpful guide for consumers on how pensions are handled upon divorce can be found here: A Survival Guide to Pension Upon Divorce | advice.

Ask Steve Webb Pension Questions

Former Pensions Minister Steve Webb is This Is Money’s Agony Uncle.

He’s ready to answer your questions, whether you’re still saving, in the process of stopping work, or messing with your finances in retirement.

Steve left the Department of Work and Pensions after the May 2015 election. He is now a partner in the actuary and consulting firm Lane Clark & ​​Peacock.

If you have any questions to ask Steve about his pension, please email him at [email protected]

Steve will do his best to respond to your message in an upcoming column, but he won’t be able to reply to all or communicate privately with readers. Nothing in their answers is regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.

Please include a day’s contact number with your message – this will be kept confidential and will not be used for marketing purposes.

If Steve is unable to answer your question, you can also contact the Pension Advisory Service, a government-backed organization that provides free help to the public. TPAs can be found Here And its number is 0800 011 3797.

SteveReceives a number of questions about E State Pension Forecast and COPE – Contracted Out Pension Equivalent. If you’re writing to Steve on this topic, he answers a specific reader question. Here. It contains links to several earlier columns about Steve’s kingdom…


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