With the frequent separations and the stresses of life in the UK armed forces, it is no surprise that divorce rates for soldiers are much higher than those of civilian couples (double, in fact). Long deployments in foreign countries are cited as the main reason for many marriage issues and breakdowns, and even when a couple have decided to call it a day, there is still the stress of going through a lengthy divorce – especially if there are children involved. If you’re in the military and are going through a separation, there are several specialist military lawyers out there who can help you, but here is some brief information on what happens when it comes to a frequent issue with military divorce: that of forces pensions.
How Armed Forces Pensions Get Dealt With During Divorce
A pension – including a UK forces pension – is considered as an income stream, and there are several ways of dealing with them if you’re currently going through a divorce:
• Offsetting. One party will be compensated for the loss of the pension by receiving a bigger share of other available assets, such as their house – depending on the value of the pension and assets. Often this leads to a revaluation of the pension in an attempt to increase its value.
• Pension Sharing Order. In this case, part of the pension is taken and paid into a pension for the other spouse, with the rest of the contributions from the military personnel going solely to their pension.
• Pension Attachment Orders. This is where the spouse receives either a lump sum or a portion of the income directly from the pension administrators (once the pension is in payment).
Getting Advice On Your Armed Forces Pension
If you need professional advice on what to do in terms of your armed forces pension, you will need to provide some specific information to your chosen solicitor or firm of lawyers (ensure that they have experience in military law and pensions in particular before you do this). First of all, you will need to provide the date you joined the pension scheme (armed forces pensions differ depending on when you started), and if you have changed your pension at any time during your career. You’ll also need to provide extra info if the pension is in payment: your CETV (Cash Equivalent Transfer Value) or CEB (Cash Equivalent Benefit). This will need to be requested from the scheme’s administrators, and it could take some time for the information to come through.
Seeking Help While Away From Home
A specialist solicitor with experience with military law will be able to advise you on what is the best option for you and your spouse concerning military pensions as well as any other aspect of divorce. Military divorce lawyers understand that you may be trying to initiate a divorce while in a foreign country, and therefore most will keep in contact with you via phone, email and even webcam if you are unable to meet in person. This can take a lot of the stress away from getting divorced, allowing you to get on with your military duties while the divorce is in progress. You can also get discounted rates from some firms if you are a current serving member of the armed forces.
Tim Bishop is senior partner of Bonallack and Bishop – specialist armed forces divorce solicitors with extensive experience of divorce involving military pensions for forces personnel serving in the UK and overseas. For expert legal advice visit their specialist websites at http://militarydivorce.co.uk or http://www.armedforcesdivorce.co.uk or call them on 01722 422300.