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Divorcees with pension earmarking orders need to take action

Are you Divorced? Do you have a Pension Earmarking Order ( also known as Attachment Order)? If you have answered yes to this question then consider seeking legal advice now in order to ensure you are protecting your interest in your ex spouses pension.

The resent changes to Pension Legislation creating more Freedom to release funds from your pension pot have been well publicised. However an unintended consequence of the pension reforms is that any divorcee with a pension earmarking order may need to act fast to protect their benefits. Any earmarking order which provides the ex-spouse with a fixed percentage of the pension income in retirement should be checked to ensure benefits are protected now that the member no longer needs to take their pension as an income and can instead take all the cash out as a lump sum.

Pension funds are often the second biggest asset people have outside their main family home. It is therefore unsurprising that they often form part of a divorce settlement. There are two main ways people can use their pension fund in a divorce settlement, they are:

  1. Pension Attachment / earmarking: this is where a fixed percentage of the member’s pension benefits are earmarked for the ex-spouse, but the pension stays with the member. Once the member reaches retirement and starts taking the pension benefits the ex-spouse will also start to receive the benefits earmarked for them. They will receive a fixed percentage of either the pension income or the tax-free cash lump sum or both.
  2. Pension sharing: this is where a cash equivalent transfer value on the member’s pension is allocated for the ex-spouse. This could result in the ex-spouse transferring these benefits straight into a pension in their own name, creating a clean break.

Now a days Pension sharing is the more popular method. However, before pension sharing was available, a number of people would have set up pension earmarking orders. Pension Earmarking orders are also appropriate today in certain limited sets of circumstances. These people now need to check how the new pension freedoms impact on them.

If a divorcee has a pension earmarking order which pays them a fixed percentage of the pension income, they should check immediately to see if their rights are protected if the member decides to withdraw all their pension as cash and not take a pension income. If the member takes all the pension as a cash lump sum the ex-spouse may not receive their correct entitlement. If the wording on the earmarking order does not protect them from this they should seek advice to ascertain whether they can make an amendment to the order to ensure that where they have a right to a percentage of the retirement income they receive the same benefit if their ex-spouse takes all the pension money out as cash instead of as an income.”

To ensure your interests are fully protected contact one of our family specialist’s here :-

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