Divorces among the over-60s are by no means infrequent and, whilst the potential for acrimony arising from issues concerning young children is absent, they often do produce a great deal of dispute regarding the division of the family assets.
There are two assets which are typically substantial – the family home and the value of pension entitlements. The former is normally relatively easy to value, even though there may be disagreements over what to do with it: the latter can be more problematic, however.
The first step is to obtain a valuation of the pension rights. Where large sums are involved, seeking professional advice is sensible. The pension can be dealt with either by a sharing of the pension when it vests (this is called ‘attachment’) or as a value to be taken into account when a division of the assets at current values is under consideration.
When an attachment of a pension takes place, the attachment will cease if the person benefiting from it remarries. The attachment will be in the form of an entitlement to an agreed percentage of the fund as calculated on the relevant valuation date, not as a percentage of a particular figure (Called 'earmarking').
The alternative is for a part of the fund to be transferred to a pension provider to administer for the spouse receiving it ('pensions sharing').
It remains to be seen what the impact of the provisions regarding pensions announced in the 2014 Budget will have.
State pension rights should also be ascertained and considered.