Divorce changes will benefit women
Saturday 25 February 1995
and JANE SUITER
The House of Lords is not always been associated with progressive legislation. But this week, its members were given advance notice of a change that, assuming it is adopted by the Government, is likely to benefit up to 200,000 women a year.
The Government announced that legislation will be enacted to allow the formal inclusion of a partner's pension in future divorce settlements in England and Wales. Similar provisions already apply in Scotland.
Changes will be brought both to the Matrimonial Causes Act and to the Pensions Bill now working its way through Parliament. It is also proposed that ways of calculating the amounts to be apportioned will be published by the Government at a later stage. But details of what the Government intends remain unknown at this stage.
Women hoping for immediate relief from the problem of what to do about their pensions in the event of divorce should not hold their breath. In Scotland, where the courts are entitled to consider both partners' pensions as part of a divorcing couple's total assets, it has not always proved easy to resolve matters.
Pensions are broadly calculated by reference to their capital value between the date of marriage to the date of divorce. Actuaries are used to working out solutions to issues such as retirement age options, which affect the pension paid or the lump sum element payable to the person who retires.
Until now, the only way division of the pension spoils could be considered was if the remainder of the couple's assets was equal to or greater than the pension, usually a man's, that should be divided.
Clean-break settlements can be arrived at whereby the woman receives cash, or the house, in return for the pension staying with the man. However, problems start if other assets are worth less.
Duncan Howorth, managing director of Abbey National Benefit Consultants, said: "It has been known for a man to go into debt in order to pay the divorced wife a greater lump sum cash settlement and keep the pension.
"In England and Wales even now, it is possible to arrive at a similar settlement, usually when lawyers for both sides agree to include a pension in the divorce settlement. But a husband cannot be legally compelled to do so."
Exactly how the changes will be made is vital to Caroline Fletcher. She was married for 20 years until her divorce and now lives on £42 per week income support. During the marriage, Mrs Fletcher worked as a nurse to supplement the family income and support their son Sean, now a student. When she thought about joining the nurses pension scheme, it was agreed her husband's pension would be more than enough for the two of them in retirement.
"I bought furniture and other things for the house. Now I don't have anything and I have to sell the house. I think the law has let me down," she said.
The Pensions Management Institute, which represents experts in the profession, has proposed that both divorcees are given an equal share of the total funds to keep until pensionable age, or to transfer into a separate fund.
The issue still to be resolved by the Government is how to deal with the fact that trustees may not always be willing to go to the extra trouble and expense of creating two pensions out of an original one.
The problem becomes worse in the case of many unfunded pensions, such as teachers', nurses' or civil servants' schemes.
Roddy Kohn, an adviser at Bristol-based Kohn Cougar, warned against complacency: "No matter what happens, the sensible thing for women to do is to make provision for themselves."
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness
- 2 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 3 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 4 Now diplomacy has failed, boycotting Israel might be the only way we can protect the people of Gaza
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- < Previous
- Next >
iJobs Money & Business
£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...
£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...
Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...
Day In a Page
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000