There are effectively 4 ways to deal with pension rights accrued prior to the marriage.

  1. The first method is to assume that all pension rights are included in the calculations and make no apportionment at all. There are many cases where this has happened.
  2. The second method would be to consider the pension rights that had been accrued to the date of marriage and allow for any increases that would have been made to the deferred pension during the period to the present date. This would then be compared to the accrued pension at present and that proportion of the pension rights would be excluded. This allows for what is termed as “passive growth” of the pre-accrued pension rights. This allows the assets supplied to the marriage to include, for example, the effect of any promotions earned during the marriage. This requires details of the pension accrued as at the date of marriage but this information should be available.
  3. The third possibility would be to take the cash equivalent as at the date of marriage with no adjustment and compare that with the cash equivalent now and simply allocate that proportion of the benefits to the member with a pre-accrued rights and define the rest according to whatever decision is made. This will, in many cases, lead to a very small amount of assets being allocated in respect of the pre-marital period but it is nevertheless a possibility.
  4. The fourth method is what is often known as the “straight-line apportionment”. This is where the benefits are simply divided up assuming they accrue evenly over the period. Therefore, if the member has 30 years service and 10 of those are pre-marriage, then a simple 20/30 of the total benefits will be included in the calculations. This method is frequently used in Courts possibly because it is an easy calculation to do than many of the other methods.

In all of these examples the pension is accrued to the date of the divorce compared with rights accrued prior to marriage – there is a distinction.

For further information or advice contact the Ringrose Law family team at one of our offices in Boston, Grantham, Lincoln, Newark, Sleaford and Spalding.


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