Our police family law representatives offer a bespoke, personalised service. In police cases, the pensions are  is often the most valuable asset on divorce and yet, due to their complexity, a great deal of confusion surrounds them. Officers who do not seek guidance from an expert are often provided with incorrect and often misleading advice.

At Slater and Gordon Lawyers we understand your pension and can provide comprehensive advice as to how the courts are likely to deal with the pension as part of the financial settlement. We are used to dealing with cases where the pension is in payment due to retirement or ill health and can advise as to the options available.

In the more contentious divorce cases, it is not uncommon for the spouse of a police officer to seek advice from a pension actuary who provides a report within the court process. The conclusions reached in such reports may be unhelpful to police officer cases and so it is important you have a solicitor who is confident in challenging such reports from the outset.

There are various options available for the division of pension assets upon divorce or dissolution.

Police pensions are complex and there are many myths surrounding them.  At Slater and Gordon Lawyers we understand how your pension works.

There are a number of options available to the Court when deciding how to deal with your pension.  We can advise you on the most suitable option available based on the length of your marriage, the value of your pension, your length of service and the value of the other matrimonial assets.

Prior to advising you in relation to your pension, you will need to obtain the “Cash Equivalent Transfer Value” (CETV) of your pension.  This can be obtained by contacting your pension administrator.  You can find details of your pension administrator here (link to how to obtain CETV).

Pension Sharing

A pension sharing order is available upon divorce or dissolution but not upon judicial separation.  This is where a percentage of your pension is transferred to your spouse. Your spouse then holds a pension in their own name, also with the police pension scheme.   Your spouse will then be unable to draw down on their pension, until they reach the age of 60.  This achieves a clean break and any contributions made by the officer to their pension following the pension sharing order, will only increase their “pot”.

Whether this is suitable for you will depend on your length of service, the pension scheme on which you are on and the value of the other matrimonial assets.

A Pension Sharing Order cannot be made if your divorce proceedings were commenced prior to 1 December 2000.  

Deferred Pension Sharing Order

This is an agreement for the Pension Sharing Order to be implemented at a future date. This is usually used when a police officer has already retired and the pension is already in payment and your spouse will not be entitled to receive the pension income Until they reach the age of 60.  If the Pension Sharing Order is delayed it means that you can receive an unreduced pension until such time as your spouse is eligible to receive it. If the pension share is delayed then, if necessary, an agreement can be reached as to the appropriate level of maintenance to be paid to your spouse.  

A Pension Sharing Order cannot be made if the divorce petition was issued before 1 December 2000.

Offsetting

This is where your spouse’s claim to your pension is offset against your capital assets.  For example, rather than give up a share of your police pension you can instead agree that your spouse should receive a greater share of the equity in any property you may own.  If the pension is offset then it is usually accepted by the court that a discount should be applied to the amount that would have been transferred under a Pension Sharing Order to reflect the early receipt of the benefit.  This option will ensure that both the lump sum and income element of their pension remains in tact.  

Deferred lump sum

This is an order requiring you to pay an amount of your lump sum on retirement to your spouse.  It is your responsibility to pay the lump sum and not your pension provider’s.  The order will simply state the date by which you will need to make the payment.

This has the advantage of ensuring the police officer’s pensionable income will remain untouched.


Pension Attachment Order

This is an order requiring a proportion of your lump sum and/or pension income or your death in service grant to be paid to your spouse.  Your pension provider is responsible for making the payments to your spouse.  The order has to be expressed as a percentage or fraction and is different to a Pension Sharing Order as it applies to the value of your pension as at the date of your retirement.  Many spouses do not agree to this option as they will lose benefits on remarriage and further, as a police officer this may not be the most suitable option for you as your spouse will benefit from any additional payments made to the pension after the divorce/dissolution, which may then also be increased as a result of any promotion attained.

As a police officer, it is important you obtain specialist advice from legal advisors who understand how your pension works, the various pension schemes and the best option available to you, given your police pension is likely to be the most valuable asset in the matrimonial pot.

Contact your local Salter and Gordon police family lawyer. We offer a free initial consultation and reduced rates for all police personnel.