by Hilary Woodward, Honorary Senior Research Fellow, University of Bristol School of Law
Research shows that pension wealth in the UK is very unevenly distributed. In about half of couples one partner holds 90% of the pension wealth, and median pension wealth for men aged 65 to 69 averages £212,000 compared with £35,000 for women. On divorce, one of the options available to couples is to share their pension(s) through a Pension Sharing Order (PSO). Despite the inequalities in pension accumulation, and the fact that the option of pension sharing has been available for more than 20 years, the most recent research shows that only 11% divorces include a PSO and their use remains limited. (more…)
by the ‘Fair Shares’ Project Team: Emma Hitchings, Caroline Bryson, Gillian Douglas, Susan Purdon and Jenny Birchall
We know that a relatively small proportion (only around one-third) of divorcing couples goes to court to get any kind of order dealing with their financial arrangements, and of those, most will arrive with an agreed settlement that they want turned into a binding ‘consent order’ rather than have the judge decide for them. Even consent orders are subject to scrutiny by the court to ensure that their terms are fair and not contrary to public policy, but while this scrutiny should be more than a rubber stamp, the court is not ‘some kind of forensic ferret’, as Waite LJ put it in Pounds v Pounds ( 1 FLR 775), burrowing into the minutiae of what the parties have agreed and querying every detail. Of course, where the couple haven’t reached a settlement and the judge has to decide the outcome of their case, he or she will have to look in depth at the parties’ circumstances and reach a decision based on the law set out in the relevant legislation and case law. (more…)
By the ‘Fair Shares’ Project Team: Emma Hitchings, Caroline Bryson, Gillian Douglas, Susan Purdon and Donna Crowe-Urbaniak
Fair Shares – Sorting out money and property on divorce is a new study, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, which will explore the arrangements couples reach relating to their finances and property when they divorce. Using a large-scale survey and in-depth interviews, it will examine what arrangements they make, how they arrive at them and how well they think they have met their expectations. The aim is to provide hard data for law reformers seeking to update the law, and insights for judges, practitioners and divorcing couples themselves on ‘what works’ best. (more…)
By the ‘Fair Shares’ Project Team: Emma Hitchings, Caroline Bryson, and Gillian Douglas
In more ‘normal times’, the start of each new year marks the arrival of media coverage of the ‘divorce season’. Newspapers publish feature articles reporting that the stresses of Christmas prompt many couples to decide that enough is enough, and to make a new year’s resolution to get out of their marriage. Family solicitors duly issue press releases to advertise their services to assist them, both with getting the divorce itself and with sorting out the financial, property and child arrangements that will need to be made to deal with life going forward. In reality, this New Year ‘spike’ in divorce applications may not be much more than an urban myth. The divorce statistics show that in the years from 2011 up to and including 2019, there have only been three years when the first quarter of the year – January to March – has recorded the highest number of petitions (applications for a divorce) filed across the year. Rather, there tends to be a consistent flow of petitions across the year.