divorce_DrJohnBullasThe Scottish Widows Women and Retirement Report 2014 noted that among divorced women 84% said pensions weren’t discussed or they couldn’t remember them being discussed as part of any settlement.

This is a similar figure to previous years.

This is very worrying. Not because I believe 84% of family lawyers failed to discuss the pension but because it shows how many women have gone through divorce proceedings and not really understood the financial issues.

The relevant part of the sentence is “they couldn’t remember them being discussed”.  It’s probably not surprising bearing in mind the huge emotional upheaval going on at the time.

But it is of concern that these women now worry that they may not have been dealt with fairly in the financial settlement.

Divorce Lifeline is encouraging those who have gone through a divorce where a pension was involved to contact them to see if the pension was fairly valued. And guess what…It’s on a no win, no fee basis. No surprise there, since this is effectively an ambulance chasing firm.

However, I can only imagine that because this firm has been going for over a year they are winning enough cases to make them a profitable business.

An empirical study was published by Cardiff Law School in 2014 as a detailed study into pension sharing. The report highlighted a lack of clarity in final orders and supporting documentation as to how the pensions had been valued, and taken into account.  If you would like a copy of the report please click here.

The message for family lawyers is very clear: It’s vital to keep very detailed records of all discussions to show the pensions had been considered.  And since some of these claims may not arise until the divorced spouse reaches retirement age, they need to be kept for a long time.

I am speaking to my clients to see what additional help they would have liked when discussing the financial settlement so that they felt more confident about the financial decisions they were making. If you are a solicitor a divorcing woman and would like to give me feedback please do call on 01932 698150. I’d be delighted to speak to you.

photo credit: flick/DrjohnBullas

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