Divorce & Dissolving Civil Partnerships

Getting a divorce or dissolving a marriage or civil partnership? If so, the courts may ask you to provide details of your pension benefits. Here you will find out about how to request this information and what impact this can have on your pension.

Getting a Divorce

If you get divorced, or dissolve a civil partnership, the Court will take your pension assets into account when determining any settlement.

You and your ex-spouse or partner will each need to tell the Court the value of your pension pot(s) and/or the value of the benefits you have built up. You don’t have the automatic right to know the value of your ex-spouse’s or partner’s benefits, and vice versa but you can each decide to tell each other.

When you go to Court, you and your ex-spouse or partner can decide how any pension benefits are split. You can decide to accept:

  • Pension sharing – the pension is split at the time of divorce or dissolution so that you each receive a separate pension pot and can continue to build pension benefits for the future
  • Pension offsetting – you each keep your own pension benefits but adjust the proportion of other assets to take account of the value of the pension benefits. For example, you could keep your pension, and your ex-spouse or ex-civil partner could get a larger share of the value of the house.
  • Pension earmarking – arranging that when one person’s pension benefits start to be drawn down, part of them will be paid to the other person

You may wish to get legal advice from your solicitor on how to deal with your LGPS benefits during any divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership.

What happens to your LGPS benefits?

What happens to your LGPS benefits once you are divorced or have your civil partnership dissolved depends on when you left the scheme or whether you are still an active contributing member.

General rules
  • Once you are divorced or your civil partnership is dissolved ex-spouse or ex-civil partner will cease to be entitled to a spouse’s or civil partner’s pension should you die before them.
  • Any children’s pension paid to an eligible child in the event of your death will not be affected by your divorce or dissolution.
  • If you have said that you would like your ex-spouse or ex-civil partner to receive any lump sum death grant payable on your death by completing and returning an expression of wish form, this will remain in place unless you change it. If your wishes change you should contact us to let us know. It is possible, however, that the Court could issue an Earmarking Order stating that all or part of any lump sum death grant is payable to your ex-spouse or ex-civil partner.

If you left the pension scheme before 1st April 2014

If the Court issues a Pension Sharing Order, the LGPS offers the spouse of a divorced scheme member the options of retaining the Pension Credit awarded in the LGPS or of transferring the cash equivalent of the Pension Credit to another qualifying pension arrangement.

Keeping the Pension Credit in the LGPS will provide the credited member with a pension and, where the divorced scheme member is an active or deferred member, a lump sum. The pension and, if any, lump sum will increase each year in line with Orders made under the Pensions (Increase) Act 1971.

When is a Pension credit payable?  

  • Normal Payment Age – Normal Payment Age for a pension credit member is 65
  • Early payment – A pension credit member can elect to receive their pension from age 60, however the pension value will be subject to actuarial reductions  
  • Ill health – A pension credit can be commuted to a one off lump sum at any age if the credit member is suffering from serious ill health (i.e. where life expectancy is less than 1 year)

What happens if a credit member dies?

  • Death before credit pension is paid – If a credited member dies before the benefits have become payable, a lump sum of three times the annual pension will be paid as a death grant to the credited member’s personal representatives.
  • Death after credit pension has been put into payment – If a credited member dies within 5 years of the benefits coming into payment, a lump sum death grant equal to 5 years worth of pension less any pension paid will be paid to whomever the administering authority decides, at its sole discretion, to make payment to.

If you left the pension scheme after 31st March 2014 or are still active

If the Court issues a Pension Sharing Order or a sharing provision is made, the LGPS offers the spouse of a divorced scheme member the options of retaining the Pension Credit awarded in the LGPS or of transferring the cash equivalent of the Pension Credit to another qualifying pension arrangement.

Keeping the Pension Credit in the LGPS will provide the credited member with a pension. The pension will increase each year in line with Orders made under the Pensions (Increase) Act 1971

When is a Pension credit payable? 

  • Normal Payment Age – Normal Payment Age for a pension credit member is State Pension Age or 65 if later.
  • Early Payment – A Pension Credit member may elect, in writing, to receive their benefits from age 55 with actuarial reductions.

In both cases, if the divorced scheme member had not yet exercised the right to take a lump sum from the scheme, the credited member will have the option to commute part of their pension for a lump sum.

What happens if a credit member dies?

  • Death before credit pension is paid – If a credited member dies before the benefits have become payable, a lump sum of five times the annual pension will be paid as a death grant to the credited member’s personal representatives.

Death after credit pension has been put into payment – If a credited member dies after the benefits have become payable but before age 75, a lump sum death grant equal to five years worth of pension, less any pension paid, will be paid to whomever the administering authority decides, at its sole discretion, to make payment to.

What if you remarry or enter into a new civil partnership?

If your LGPS benefits are subject to a Pension Sharing Order and you remarry, enter into a new civil partnership or into a cohabiting partnership, any spouse’s pension, civil partner’s pension or eligible cohabiting partner’s pension payable following your death will also be reduced.

If you remarry or enter into a new civil partnership and then divorce or dissolve your civil partnership again, your remaining pension rights can be subject to further division, although a Pension Sharing Order cannot be issued if an Earmarking Order has already been issued against your LGPS pension rights. Similarly, an Earmarking Order cannot be issued if your pension benefits are already subject to a Pension Sharing Order in respect of the marriage/civil partnership.

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