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Armed Forces pension when you split up

How do you claim a share of your ex's Armed Forces pension?

Jul 15th, 2021

Theo Hoppen, Partner

At Langleys Solicitors, our patch is right in the Eastern base of England’s  current and former RAF bases. Over the years we have helped many military families move on in their relationships.

Armed Forces pensions when you split up

Pensions are usually an important issue in these cases as they are a valuable asset.  The court has the power to order one spouse to share his or her pension with their ex.

Those who serve in the Army, Royal Navy or Royal Airforce have what are known as final salary pensions.  These pensions guarantee the employee a certain income when he or she retires.  The income they receive is based on the scheme member’s final salary before retirement.  These pensions are increasingly less common although they are still prevalent in the public sector.  The reason they are less common in the private sector is because they are so expensive for companies to fund because the pension benefits are so generous.

When a member of the armed forces divorces, the court requires that their pension is given a capital value.  With a normal “money purchase” pension the value of the pension is simply the current value of the investments held within the pension.  In contrast, a final salary pension is a guarantee of a future income stream and does not hold investments which can be valued.  It is necessary for the armed forces pension scheme to calculate a capital value based on complex actuarial calculations taking into account the future income the pension will provide to the scheme member.

Here are three issues that can come up with an Armed Forces Pension in your divorce:

We are experts in dealing with armed forces pensions and there are three common issues:

  1. The capital value calculated by the pension scheme can often be an undervaluation of the pension benefits.  By relying on this valuation, a divorcing spouse could receive an unfairly low share of their spouse’s armed forces pension.
  2. There can be an unfair outcome if the pension share is based on the capital value of the pension rather than the income it will produce in the future. 
  3. The pension scheme often allows members to draw benefits in their 50s which can have an impact on the true value of the pension.

What you should do if you have an Armed Forces pension and you are splitting up?

You should get advice from a pension actuary who is an expert in this field. At Langleys we have gathered such specialist advisers that can really help you understand your entitlement or your obligation to your Armed Forces pension.

We are here to help you get a fair result. Contact us for a time unlimited free consultation.  We are discreet, your conversation with us will be treated with confidence and we know how to help you.

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