Divorce and Your Military Pension

Nobody goes into a marriage thinking that it may potentially break down. Apart from the emotional upset and trauma caused by the failing relationship, financial concerns and worries about money are at the forefront of many divorcing couples’ minds. This is a particular concern for military personnel, whether serving or retired, and one of the main causes of worry is what will happen to your valuable military pension.

How Long Were You Married?

The UK Armed Forces has a very clear definition of what a spouse is. Married couples or those in a civil partnership only are considered as spouses – not those living together as man and wife, but if you live together before marrying this may be taken into account too.

The length of the marriage is what the Court takes into account when determining how much of the pension the former spouse is entitled to.

Many soldiers made the mistake of thinking the cut-off point for the end of the marriage is the date of separation, where in fact the date of divorce is the date that matters most, so beware of the financial implications of a divorce after a long separation.

How Much Will You Lose?

The Veterans UK [previously the Armed Forces Pension Scheme] guidance states that you may be required to share anything between 1% and 100% of your military pension with your former spouse. As there are so many variables, it is essential to seek expert legal advice sooner rather than later.

A military pension is extremely valuable, so think of this in terms of protecting your future income rather than being unfair to your former spouse. A lawyer can advise on other ways to transfer funds to your ex-spouse should you wish to do so.

You may be able to keep 100% of your military pension entitlement – it really depends on the circumstances.

What is your Military Pension Worth? Getting the right valuation is critical

It’s not easy to put an accurate value on any sort of pension, given that most funds will not mature for several decades.

A proper valuation of your pension fund is essential – we can arrange a specialist actuary to help with this. You will also need get advice on how the value of the pension will be affected should your ex-spouse choose to take their pension at different ages.

But in dealing with your pension on divorce – you really need a specialist solicitor. Sadly, many solicitors who don’t deal regularly with the military, are simply unaware of the 3 different pension schemes (AFPS 75,  AFPS 05 and AFPS 15) which currently apply to serving and retired members of HM Armed Forces – and as result, sometimes get the wrong valuation. Make sure you don’t fall into that trap.

Splitting Family Assets

Once the divorce is agreed, the court will look at how to divide up family assets – one of the largest of which is like to be your military pension. The court to have the power to order part of the pension to be paid to the ex-spouse – under either what is known as an;

  1. Attachment Order or
  2. a Pension Sharing Order.

The difference between the two has a significant impact on taxation issues; in an Attachment Order you pay all of the tax on your pension, if you choose a Pension Sharing Order, the ex-spouse pays the tax on their proportion.

Speak to one of our specialist military divorce solicitor for advice about which option is best in your case.

Important of Timing

As discussed above, dragging your heels over divorce could cost in the long run, so you may want to get the ball rolling as soon as you can. The key date is the Immediate Pension Point, which is 16 years of service as an officer, or 22 in other ranks. Once you reach this milestone, the value of your pension increases, so if this date is looming, it is even more important to sort things out quickly.

Moving On – don’t forget to take financial advice and think about a new will

If you decide to remarry at some point in the future, your financial situation will change. Get the right legal and financial advice to plan for the future now, taking in all eventualities.

As soon as you are separated , it’s important that you make a new will, as until the divorce is finalised, the spouse will be entitled to everything should the worst happen.

Going through military divorce? Worried about your pension? Get specialist legal advice

Divorce, pensions and finance are complex issues and no two cases are the same. Don’t struggle through these issues alone – seek professional help from one of our family law team who specialise in military divorce who will explain the options and help to safeguard your financial future.

We represent clients throughout England and Wales – and those posted overseas. We can either take your instructions by email phone or Skype video –  or alternatively can arrange a meeting with you at one of our offices in Hampshire, Wiltshire or Dorset

  • Call  [01722] 422300 or FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 for FREE initial phone advice or
  • E-mail our team using the contact form below for a call back

Comments or questions are welcome.

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