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Divorced couple in dispute over share of wife’s £2m pension fund …

March 10th 2021

A wife has lost her appeal to reduce the amount her husband should be awarded from her pension fund as part of their divorce settlement.

For many clients retaining their pension pot is very important. This is a good reminder that the sharing principle is firmly applied to pension accrued during the marriage.

Amy Fallows, Head of Family Law reports on this recent case.

The husband and wife, who were aged 69 and 57 respectively, had been married for 20 years before separating.

Following the separation, the wife and two children remained in the matrimonial home. They jointly owned several properties which had a total net value of £2.17 million. The other relevant asset was the wife’s pension, which had an estimated cash equivalent value of £2.1 million.

The wife had been in employment for many years, but the extent to which the husband had worked during the marriage, and the extent of his contributions to the household, were the subject of dispute.

At the time of the hearing, he was in debt and had only a very modest pension. Relying on his conduct and an imbalance between their respective contributions, the wife argued that he should receive a pension share of £600,000 and no lump sum.

However, the district judge awarded him a 48.6% pension share and a lump sum of £814,000. He held that past and future contributions were the most significant factor in the case and did not think that the husband’s conduct was such that it should be reflected in the distribution of the assets.

The wife appealed and judge reduced the husband’s lump sum to £733,650 and his pension share to 34% to properly reflect the wife’s contributions and future needs.

The wife then asked for permission to bring further evidence from her pension expert because his report, which had been before both the judge and the district judge, was out of date. The judge refused.

The Court of Appeal has upheld that decision and refused to reopen the case.

It noted that the wife sought to re-open the question of the husband’s conduct and contributions on the basis that they were part of the history of the case and could not be ignored.

However, that submission was hopeless. She had been refused permission to appeal on those grounds and she could not seek to reargue them now.

If you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of family law please contact the team on 01228 516666 or click here to send them an email.

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