Pensions and Equality

19 MAR 2007

Edward Hess, Barrister, Harcourt Chambers and Deputy District Judge, Principal Registry of the Family Division, and Fiona Hay, Barrister, Harcourt Chambers. The principle of equal partnership in marriage and thus equal division of assets on divorce was established in White v White [2000] 2 FLR 981 and further developed in Miller v Miller; McFarlane v McFarlane [2006] UKHL 24, [2006] 1 FLR 1186. In many cases the court's task will be complicated by the need to seek a fair division of different categories of assets, including pensions. This article highlights some of the difficulties encountered by practitioners in advising in this area and suggests ways in which these difficulties might be overcome.

There are various ways in which pension funds can be divided, including off-setting and pension sharing, but the Court of Appeal has not yet approved any one methodology. How should a court deal with a situation where one of the parties has earned part of their pension fund prior to the marriage? When is it appropriate or necessary to instruct an actuary? The article considers these questions and the wider question of how the court is to conduct its search for fairness and equality in the context of the technical issues surrounding pension division. For the full article see April [2007] Fam Law.

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