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We were approached directly by Mrs B from the Sharing Pensions website as during ancillary relief proceedings she had concerns with the calculation of Mr B's pension rights. Mrs B was aged 45 and had been employed in public service for most of her working life and had been married for 22 years at the time of divorce.

Her former husband had recently retired at the age of 65 and was entitled to a full superannuation pension with 40 years of service, having worked in the public sector for all his life. Mr B was reluctant to give up any of his pension claiming, quite reasonably, that he needed all of his pension for living expenses during retirement.

It was argued by Mr B's solicitor that as Mrs B was still young and would have almost the full pension by her retirement age that she had no need for any of Mr B's pension rights. In view of this argument, Mrs B's solicitor and barrister advised that pensions were off limits and should be ignored for the purposes of the divorce settlement. Mrs B sought a second opinion and we conducted a pension audit of all of the pension arrangements.

Pension audit
On retirement Mr B had a gross pension income from all arrangements of £33,300 per annum and a tax free lump sum of £88,000 from his public sector scheme. This together with other savings gave Mr B total funds on deposit of approximately £120,000. Mrs B had completed 21 years in a public service scheme and was on a salary of £79,000.

The audit showed that the capital value of Mr B's pension rights of £557,000 exceeded that of Mrs B's pension rights by £210,000. A significant part of the value of Mr B's pension rights was due to the widows pension payable to a surviving wife following his death.

Prior to divorce the relatively young Mrs B was the potential recepient of this widows pension. Because she was 20 years his junior, she could not only have reasonably expected to receive this widows pension, but also to receive it for a quarter of a centry after his death.

Of course, there is also a spouses pension attached to Mrs B's occupational pension scheme, however, this was unlikely to have become payable to Mr B due to the fact that Mr B was 20 years older than Mrs B and due to mortality, she was expected to outlive him.

We valued the widows pension at £157,300. Prior to divorce, only Mrs B could have benefited from this widows pension but following divorce it was a benefit that Mr B could bestow on any wife. This £157,000 was the majority portion of the overall £210,000 difference in value of Mr B's and Mrs B's pension rights.

In this case offsetting was the most appropriate solution and an additional settlement of £75,000 was secured for Mrs B to be paid in cash from the moneys held on deposit by Mr B. Therefore, Mr B discovered that having a much younger potential widow can be very expensive on divorce.

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