Armed Forces Divorce
Divorce rates for soldiers enlisted in the armed forces is now double that of couples in civilian life, according to research. Long periods of separation and a stressful job take its toll on relationships and an increasing number of troops complain about troubled marriages as a result of long and multiple deployments.
Our family lawyers have many years experience acting for armed personnel and their families on all aspects of family law, ranging from military divorce and separation to residence disputes. Many have a longstanding personal experience with how the military works - and represent service personnel and their families at home and abroad.
We understand the difficulties of being involved in a family dispute when you are away from home. If you are a serving soldier thinking of divorce or separation, we will work with you via phone, email or webcam so that you can continue with your day to day duties.
At Hartnell Chanot & Partners we provide discounted rates, out of hours appointments and specialist legal advice on pension calculations, negotiating settlement arrangements and the full range of family law services to serving armed forces personnel.
How is a Forces Pension Dealt With in Divorce?
Although armed forces pensions are treated like any other asset of the marriage, they are not a capital asset, a pension is an income stream and will always remain as such.
There are three main ways in which your armed forces pension can be dealt with in military divorce:
This is where we would look at compensating one party for the loss of interest in their spouse's pension by giving that person a greater share of the other available assets (for example the home). This will depend upon the value of the armed forces pension and the value of the other assets. In relation to armed forces pensions, this is likely to mean that the value given to the pension by the armed forces pension administrators (CETV) is likely to be challenged by the spouse. This is because it is an unfunded scheme which means that if a person were to buy a similar pension with the additional benefits received by the armed forces personnel; it may cost more money and would be valued higher. A re-valuation of the pension is likely to increase the value of the pension.
2. Pension Sharing Order
This is where one part of the pension is taken and paid into a pension, which is set up within the scheme for the other spouse. After the pension sharing order is implemented, any further contributions made by the armed forces personnel will only go towards their pension, not the spouses. Therefore the armed forces personnel have the ability to build their pension back up before retirement. However the closer they are to retirement the less likely that will be. If the pension is in payment when a pension sharing order is made there are two consequences, on receiving the pension the armed forces personnel will immediately lose a proportion of the income as the pension is split. The armed forces personnel income will now come from the remaining proportion of the pension. The spouse however, will not receive that income until they reach retirement age. In those circumstances, other options will need to be considered. Those options could include a pension attachment order, or a deferral of the pension sharing order being made.
3. Pension Attachment Orders
A pension attachment order is where an order is made that once the pension is in payment, the spouse receives a proportion of the income and or lump sum. They receive this direct from the pension administrators. This order can be useful if a pension is already in payment as it means the spouse receives the money immediately rather than waiting until she is 60 or 65. It is also advantageous, as a pension attachment order would normally stop on a spouse's remarriage. However as the pension is not split at the date of payment, any contributions made by the armed forces personnel post-divorce, will also increase the amount of money that the spouse receives. This option is used less frequently but can be the most suitable order in some circumstances.
What is the Best Option for Your Armed Forces Pension?
There are many advantages / disadvantages of each option, and the option which is most suitable to an individual in the armed forces will depend on their circumstances and the other assets which may be in dispute. We are however able to advise on the options that an officer may face in relation to their pension.
Armed Forces Pension Calculator
The Armed Forces Pension Calculator is for guidance purposes only. It is not intended to provide you with financial advice. The pension calculator provides a guide to the pension benefits you could expect to receive under Armed Forces Pension Scheme 1975 (AFPS 75) or Armed Forces Pension Scheme 2005 (AFPS 05). The calculator does not show dependents benefits, ill-health benefits or pension sharing figures. The calculator will initially ask you to confirm which pension scheme you are in. The forecasts that the calculator provides are based on 2010 pension codes (for AFPS 75 members) and 2010 pay rates (for AFPS 05 members).
Click here to use the army pension calculator.
Please Note: The approach taken in relation to an Armed Forces pension depends on whether or not the pension is an Armed Forces pension scheme 1975 (AFPS 75) which closed to new entrance from 6th April 2005 or an Armed Forces pension scheme 2005 (AFPS 05) which opened to new entrance from 6th April 2005 or 6th April 2006 for those who elected to transfer from the AFPS 75 as a result of an offer to transfer. Early departure under the AFPS 05 can be very significant and should be taken into account by the court when considering division on divorce. It can be complex as it may not be known at the time of divorce whether an EDP will be received and when. There is therefore no standard approach to the AFPS 05 on divorce. The circumstances of each case must be looked at when deciding what is fair.
What Information do we Need to Advise You About Your Armed Forces Pension
You will need to provide the following information:
- Cash Equivalent Transfer value (CEVT) or Cash Equivalent Benefit (CEB) if the pension is already in payment. You need to contact the administrator of the scheme and request this as soon as possible as it is likely to take the administrator some time to provide this information, you should not be charged for requesting this information.
- The date you joined the pension scheme, as this will tell us which armed forces pension you have. If you have changed between the pensions schemes, you will need to let us know this.
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