Pensions and divorce

Pensions and divorce doesn’t need to be complicated. Here we provide some technical support to help you have easier conversations with your clients.

Watch our webinar

Clare Moffat, Head of Business Development at Royal London, talks about: *

  • the challenges faced in pensions and divorce
  • the impact of pension freedoms
  • how you can help your clients and solicitor connections

*this webinar was recorded on Monday 12 November 2018.

Read our top five questions

  1. What can the ex-spouse/civil partner do with a pension credit?

    If the scheme does not allow the ex-spouse/civil partner to become a member, the transfer value can be paid to a personal pension. If the pension credit is coming from an occupational scheme, a Section 32 will also be an option.
    The value could also be transferred to a scheme the ex-spouse/civil partner is already a member of, if the rules of the receiving scheme allow.

  2. Is it possible to take tax free cash from a pension credit?
    If the pension credit originated from crystallised benefits such as an annuity, a DB pension in payment or funds in drawdown, it is not possible for the ex-spouse/civil partner to take any tax free cash.  This is called a disqualifying pension credit.

  3. Is it possible to apply a pension sharing order when you are not married or in a civil partnership?
    No.  Pension sharing is only an option on divorce.  It is not an option for unmarried couples or couples not in a civil partnership.

  4. When giving advice on a pension credit coming from a DB scheme where the only option is a transfer out, are the pension transfer permissions required?
    As the ex-spouse/civil partner is not giving up any benefits in the DB scheme, the pension transfer permissions are not required.

  5. Are there any pensions which can’t pay a pension credit to an ex-spouse/civil partner?
    Yes.  State pensions, pensions inherited on death including beneficiary drawdown or any pensions which already have an earmarking order as a result of a divorce.


The information provided is based on our current understanding of the relevant legislation and regulations and may be subject to alteration as a result of changes in legislation or practice. Also it may not reflect the options available under a specific product which may not be as wide as legislations and regulations allow.

All references to taxation are based on our understanding of current taxation law and practice and may be affected by future changes in legislation and the individual circumstances of the investor.

Download our technical articles

Further information

The Nuffield Foundation funded study Pensions on Divorce found that there was a widespread lack of confidence amongst practitioners on the issue of pensions on divorce, poor quality pension disclosure on the court files and a substantial proportion of potentially unfair outcomes.

The project aimed to establish the Pension Advisory Group - an interdisciplinary working group - whose purpose would be to provide an in-depth analysis of how pensions on divorce should be approached, particularly in relation to valuing pensions and offsetting them against other capital assets.

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The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. The firm is on the Financial Services Register, registration number 117672. It provides life assurance and pensions. Registered in England and Wales number 99064. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL.