Pension Sharing Orders

Pension sharing order provides a clean break by allowing the members pension rights to be divided between the parties so that a proportion, or the whole, of the retirement benefits can now be transferred from one spouse to the other as a final settlement of the financial matters.

Before 1 December 2000 the only solution for all retirement benefits in pension arrangements on divorce or nullity was by offsetting against other matrimonial assets in the settlement or by an earmarking order.

The rights created by pension sharing as a result of an internal transfer or an external transfer will belong to the former spouse and there will be no dependence on the partner, as in the case of an earmarking order, resulting in a clean break of the financial matters. Pension sharing is only available to married couples and is not available to cohabiting couples applying to divorce and nullity of marriage only, unlike earmarking that includes divorce, nullity and judicial separation.

Pension sharing is not compulsory and it will still be possible for couples on divorce to select earmarking or offsetting as options where appropriate.
It is not possible to obtain a pension sharing order against the same set of benefits as those which are subject to an attachment order. Accordingly, in cases where an attachment order has already been made, a sharing order is not an option, even where the attachment order is in respect of a different marriage. An attachment order can, however, be made after a pension sharing order has been made, against the shared benefits, provided that it is in respect of a different marriage.