Groundbreaking Pension Sharing On Divorce Study
May 12, 2014
The first detailed study into pension sharing on divorce since its introduction in England and Wales in 2000 has recently (March 2014) been published by Hilary Woodward and Mark Sefton of Cardiff University.
It is accessible via orca.cf.ac.uk/56700 and the Key Findings at orca.cf.ac.uk/56702.
The study was designed to provide an insight into when and how pensions are included in final divorce financial remedy orders.
Judicial Statistics show that the number of pension orders of any kind is low and remains well below Government predictions. The study included a survey of court files, interviews with practitioners and judges and expert assessment of data from a sub-sample of the court files. Its findings suggest that pension sharing is a positive addition to financial remedies but that it is the prerogative of a relatively privileged minority.
Offsetting pension- against non-pension assets remains the most common way of approaching pensions on divorce but the economic rationality of the approach and the fairness of the outcomes were unclear, or questioned by the project pension expert, in a large proportion of cases.
To my knowledge this is the first study of its kind and is to be welcomed. Pension sharing presents a distinct challenge to clients, courts, solicitors, advisers and pension providers alike and therefore it is perhaps not surprising that it is not used as widely as perhaps initially hoped or predicted.
Costs alone make matters worse just at a time when clients are most cost conscious. More could be done here in my opinion.
Pension sharing is an absolute minefield and I am not always convinced that clients are getting access to the right information.
It is hoped that with the major reforms coming into force that this will be a catalyst for wider change. Do you agree?