Best advice for pension offsetting from divorce solicitors in London and Brighton

8th March 2015 by

 

For every divorcing couple, notions of what constitutes a fair financial settlement will differ and even the best divorce solicitor in London, Brighton or elsewhere in the UK will have to take into consideration a client’s wishes for achieving a suitable division of assets.

When it comes to pensions, some spouses are very protective of their rights to this particular, and sometimes very valuable asset, and may be unwilling to enter into a pension attachment or pension sharing order on divorce.

In this case, the divorce lawyer, client and other spouse may work together to devise a suitable division of other assets as part of the financial settlement (ancillary relief package) in order to achieve a suitable clean break settlement. This can include pension offsetting.

Pension offsetting in a divorce financial settlement

Typically, to achieve a suitable pension offsetting agreement, the couple will examine other assets and decide whether it is beneficial for the family to use offsetting as a way to balance financial division.

If the pension pot is substantial and there are young children of the marriage it may be more appropriate to leave it intact and to surrender rights to the matrimonial home to the non-pensioned spouse (typically the wife) who will be looking after the children.

When a couple decide to liquidate assets, such as the matrimonial home, if one spouse wishes to keep their pension rights intact it may be appropriate to designate a larger lump-sum payment from the sale of assets to offset the potential future benefits from the pension.

Disadvantages of pension offsetting

There are a number of factors to be taken into consideration when deciding whether pension offsetting is the best way to settle pension rights.

Firstly, the spouse receiving the benefit of an increased lump sum payment or a larger share of rights to the matrimonial home will be receiving the advantage of their assets immediately and will not be subject to the uncertainties surrounding performance of a pension scheme.

Nevertheless, they will lose all rights to funds upon retirement and may be required by the court to use part of the offset sum to secure finances for their own retirement.

Further, it may prove difficult for a couple to settle terms of pension offsetting, especially as pension values may fluctuate more than property values or that of other assets.

In the case of wealthier and older couples, the pension pot and potential retirement benefits could be of significantly greater value than other matrimonial assets and, as such, offsetting may not be the most appropriate method to achieve the most suitable divorce financial settlement.

Do you need to speak to a divorce solicitor on rights to a pension fund?

If you are uncertain about the potential value of a pension or what type of pension division would be appropriate upon divorce, it is essential that you consult an experienced divorce solicitor at your earliest convenience to find out what action would suit you best. Divorce solicitors in London, Brighton and elsewhere in the UK will be able to advise, and Healys has experienced lawyers, across all areas of litigation, who will listen sensitively to your situation before making careful considerations on how best to proceed.

At Healys we believe the best way to achieve beneficial financial settlement is to ensure all necessary financial information – such as pension and house valuations, investments held and projected earnings – is gathered as expeditiously as possible.

Our experienced divorce solicitors, based in offices in London and Brighton, regularly represent clients in both the High Court and in local courts across the south east of England and beyond.

For more information on the service we provide, please contact Jane Sanders in London on 020 7822 4107 or email jane.sanders@healys.com. For Brighton enquiries please contact Catherine Taylor on 01273 669 124 or email catherine.taylor@healys.com