Pension divorce rules

Pension divorce rules

Sometimes things in life don’t go according to plan and you and your partner might have decided to separate. Going your separate ways creates a lot of financial administration and you might be wondering how the split might affect your pensions going forward.

Here we will explore how a separation may affect your pension and who has a right to claim a part of their ex-partner’s pension and under what circumstances.

Pensions and divorce

You may be entitled to some of your partner’s (or they your) pension if you are married or in a civil partnership and are looking to divorce or dissolve the partnership. If you are not married or in a civil partnership, dividing pensions when the relationship ends will not be a possibility in most of the UK. If you have been living together for a long time, there may be circumstances where you can claim some of your ex-partner’s pension if you live in Scotland.

However, even if you are married or in a civil partnership, whether you can claim benefits from an ex-partner’s pension once legally separated depends on several factors concerning your stage in the proceedings. It may be entirely possible to make a claim for pension benefits, however you will already need to be getting a divorce to explore any kind of financial settlement.

This means that if you are a married couple/Civil Partners and separated but not divorced, you will not be able to claim any of your partners pension benefits. The process of divorce must have already started for the pension to be a consideration.


Pension divorce rules

How it works

As part of the process of getting divorced you will normally be asked to declare your assets. These will then be valued and divided amongst the parties concerned. Your pension counts as a financial asset and will need to be included at this stage.

As divorce is a legal process it is important that you have all the relevant information to hand. You will need to provide totals for all your pension pots including any workplace and private pensions. Many people forget that they have pension pots if they have changed jobs several times in their life, however, you will need to track down all your pensions from old employers to give a realistic picture of your finances. Your state pension may also be taken into consideration; however, this will depend on whether you had reached State Pension age before or after April 2016.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland all pensions will be taken into consideration regardless of whether they were built up during or before the partnership.

In Scotland the rules are a little different. Only the amount of pension built up during the marriage or civil partnership is considered.


Pensions Divorce Rules


Your options

There are three main options when dividing a pension during a divorce. These are Pension Offsetting, Pension Sharing, and Pension earmarking/ attachment orders:

Pension Offsetting: In this scenario, the value of the pension is offset against other assets such as the value of a house. In this case one partner would take a bigger share of any property that the couple own in return for the other person keeping their pension.

Pension Sharing:  Here, a portion of a partner’s pension is shared with the other. Person A will transfer the portion to person B’s scheme. This could be a new or existing scheme, or in some circumstances Person B may be able to become a member of the pension scheme of the original fund. The person who is receiving the transferred funds will then have full control of the money.

Pension Earmarking (Scotland) / Attachment Orders (The rest of the UK):

In this scenario an ex-partner will receive a portion of the other person’s pension once the scheme member has started receiving their pension benefits. This way the receiving partner can get some of their ex-partners pension income, a portion of the lump sum, or both. This is called an Attachment Order in most of the UK and Pension Earmarking in Scotland.  In Scotland, the receiving partner can only get a portion of the lump sum.

If you would like to read more about the divorce rules surrounding pensions you can get impartial information from the UK government at or visit our website to discover more about our offering.


The content of this article is for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or taxation advice. You should not rely on the information contained in this article as legal, financial or taxation advice. The content of this article is based on information currently available to us, and the current laws in force in the UK. The content does not take account of individual circumstances and may not reflect recent changes in the law since the date it was created. It is essential that detailed financial and tax advice should be sought in both jurisdictions and any legal advice, if required.

This notice cannot disclose all the risks associated with the products we make available to you. When making your own investment decisions it is important you understand that all investments can fall as well as rise in value and it is possible you may get back less than what you have paid in. You should also be satisfied that any investments you choose are suitable for you in the light of your circumstances and financial position. You should seek financial advice if you are not sure of what’s best for your situation.


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