Liverpool Echo.co.uk – March 28th 2012
DIVORCE is one of the most stressful of life’s events and can have far-reaching consequences many years down the line.
Now a survey by a divorce and pensions settlement advice service has found that thousands of women may have had their pensions settlement undervalued.
According to LifeLine nearly three quarters of a million people who divorced after December 1, 2000 may be entitled to tens of thousands of pounds if their settlement proves to be incorrect.
Following the government’s Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999, all couples who divorced after December 1, 2000 should have shared all occupational and personal pensions.
According to LifeLine however, up to half of the 1.5 million divorces that have taken place since the ruling have not had their pension settlement correctly valued by a financial expert.
Tony Derbyshire, managing director at LifeLine, explains: “A pension is a very complex financial asset and until now, most settlements were only based on the cash equivalent transfer value of the pension at the time of the divorce, rather than its true value, which can be substantially more.
“Calculating the true value of a pension is actually very difficult and is therefore very easy to get wrong without the advice of an independent financial advisor or actuary.
“If a rare painting by Picasso was a matrimonial asset, you would seek expert advice to obtain the true value of it – a pension is no different, yet it is an asset that has been vastly overlooked by many divorce lawyers.”
Established to address this issue, LifeLine offers divorcees an opportunity to find out whether or not their pension settlement was undervalued at the time of divorce and if it was, LifeLine’s experts will build a case on the divorcee’s behalf, without involving the former spouse.
There is a charge, however, if it’s found the claim can be pursued.
“As the claim would be made against the negligent lawyer who failed to fully protect their client’s interests at the time of divorce, absolutely no contact will be made with the former spouse,” says Tony.
“This is not about dragging up the emotional turmoil of divorce; it is about ensuring divorcees are treated fairly and receive the true pension value to which they are entitled.”