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How Does A Court Treat a Pension?

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I often encounter situations where one party to a marriage will be adamant that his or her spouse should only be entitled to half of the marital years part of his pension. For many years the court would consider whether this approach would be fair. In recent years, however, there has been a shift away from this particularly after a long marriage.

The Court’s Approach

The recent Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Finch v Baker [2021] EWCA Civ 72 confirmed the principle set down in the earlier leading case of W v H [2020] EWFC B10 which is that, in a case that is dictated by financial needs, it is not appropriate to exclude any portion of the pension on the basis that some of the pension was earned either pre or post-separation.  Therefore, the court will look at the whole of the pension.

Applying the logic of Lord Nicholls in White v White [2000] UKHL 54, the idea that some of the pension fund is arguably ‘non-marital’ carries little weight in a case where the financial needs of each party cannot be met without having recourse to the full extent of the asset.  

The ‘Needs’ of the Parties

The majority of cases can be described as being dictated by ‘needs’ and hence the court will usually start by considering whether it would be fair for there to be a division of pensions, so they produce equal incomes in retirement for each person. This becomes increasingly compelling the longer the couple have been married and the closer they get to retirement.

Take Proper Advice

Pensions are a highly complex area of family law and to make the situation even more difficult there are different types of pensions.  The team at Vingoe Family Law work closely with pension experts to ensure that our clients receive the right advice for them. Contact us today to find out how Vingoe Law can help you.

Anthony Vingoe

Specialist Financial Remedy Solicitor 

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