This week the Pension Advisory Group (PAG) published A Guide to the Treatment of Pensions on Divorce. Its purpose is to be a good practice guide for family law practitioners and the divorcing public. PAG is a multi-disciplinary group comprising judges, barristers, solicitors, actuaries, chartered financial planners and academics, all with experience in the field of pensions on divorce.
Quite apart from setting out the law regarding pensions in divorce cases, the Guide aims to be a good practice guide aimed at producing consistent and fairer outcomes for those couples who divorce. The clear message from financial experts is that divorcing couples should seek financial advice early in the divorce process and that, when seeking expert input, questions should be targeted towards the minimum necessary for maximum benefit. The lawyers, for their part, want simple, easy to follow expert reports in what is a complex subject.
James Copson, a partner in our family law team, one of the co-authors of the PAG Guide and a member of Resolution's Pensions, Tax and Financial Remedies committee, says:
"Before pension sharing was introduced in 2000 many women lost out on divorce because they could not share their husband's pension. In the years since a lack of understanding of the complex issue of how to deal with pensions on divorce has meant that they have lost out once more. I hope that the PAG Guide will be of real use to buck this trend and encourage greater fairness in divorce awards.
"What worries me is that, when the waves roll back to uncover the true financial impact of the profession's failings on the subject of pension sharing, there will be a tidal swell of negligence cases against lawyers. Very few family lawyers really get to grips with the true value of a couple's pensions both at the outset and when negotiating financial awards. The PAG Guide is a handy reference tool for lawyers and the public alike and should help reduce the scope for future claims."