Pensions on Divorce Interdisciplinary Working Group

The Nuffield funded study Pensions on Divorce found that there was a widespread lack of confidence amongst practitioners on the issue of pensions on divorce, poor quality pension disclosure on the court files and a substantial proportion of potentially unfair outcomes. Of the 369 court files studied, 80% revealed at least one relevant pension and yet only 14% contained a pension order. Practitioners confirmed that offsetting pensions against other capital assets remained the most common way of dealing with pensions, but there was little if any agreement on how the pensions or the offset should be valued. The little, and sometimes contradictory, guidance that case law offers is chiefly geared towards bigger money cases.

This new project has the potential to make a major improvement to the practice of pensions on divorce and will be of particular benefit to those divorcing couples who are not fabulously wealthy but nevertheless hold pensions of some value.

The project aims to establish an interdisciplinary working group whose purpose would be to provide an in-depth analysis of how pensions on divorce should be approached, particularly in relation to valuing pensions and offsetting them against other capital assets. The working group would comprise members of the judiciary, practising solicitors, barristers and academics with special expertise in pensions and financial remedies on divorce, and pension experts.

The hope is that the work of this group could inform the basis of a guide to be adopted by the Family Justice Council and higher courts for use by the courts and family practitioners in England and Wales.