Pensions being missed in divorce

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Sarah Atkinson

Cornwall’s leading family law team has backed calls for more information to be shared about pensions on divorce.

Age UK is calling for a change to the law so that pensions must be considered as part of the divorce process. Currently, when finances are settled out of court, there is no automatic right to know about a spouse’s pension or requirement for the pension to be shared.

“The problem is that many pensions have a very high capital value but that is not necessarily disclosed unless it is requested,” said divorce lawyer Sarah Atkinson from Stephens Scown.

“If the couple are under pension age it is very easy for the right to already accumulated pension to be ignored especially if people are acting for themselves, without the support of a lawyer. On line divorce doesn’t deal with this at all so it is really easy for a valuable pension to slip through unnoticed if both sides aren’t properly advised.”

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that men approaching retirement aged 55-64 have a median pension wealth of £125K, around three times higher than women of the same age.

Atkinson added: “The outcome could mean that one spouse – usually the wife – loses out financially. Pensions are complex structures, so it is crucial to have expert legal and actuarial advice.”