Once a financial order has been obtained in divorce or dissolution proceedings, many people are keen to obtain their final decree as soon as possible after what can often feel like a long process. Having said that, if they consult their family lawyer, they will often be advised to wait 28 days from the endorsement of a financial order before making an application for the final decree to end their marriage or civil partnership.
It is important to be mindful of the timing when a pension sharing order has been made. There are a number of variables which are relevant to this. If you have any doubt about when to apply, seek advice.
Problems with implementation of a pension sharing order can arise if one party pre-deceases the other before it takes legal effect. Bear in mind, a pension sharing order will only come into effect on the later of either the granting of the decree absolute or 28 days from the date of the pension sharing order.
If the final decree is granted and your former spouse or civil partner were to die within 28 days of the financial order there is a possibility that the pension sharing order will fail. This is because there are circumstances in which the fund will terminate on the policy holders death which may prevent implementation.
Where a marriage or civil partnership is dissolved upon pronouncement of the final decree, the surviving spouse or civil partner may also lose their entitlement to spousal benefits which could otherwise arise; including for example a widow or widower’s benefits. This could result in the intended recipient of a pension sharing order being unable to secure their interest if the person with pension rights were to die. It could also risk an application against the deceased’s estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
In summary, think about timing, take advice and avoid unnecessary risks.