Q: My husband has walked out after twenty eight years of marriage. I am devastated and terrified about how I will manage in the future as I don't work. He says he is going to retire and that when he is living off his pension I will not be entitled to any of it. Is that right?
A: Certainly not. Your husband's pension is a matrimonial asset. The staring point for a financial settlement is a 50:50 split of all matrimonial assets - though factors such as whether there are children to provide for are taken into account.
Before any settlement is reached, both you and your husband will be required to make full financial disclosure of all your assets. Full financial disclosure involves providing to the other party details of all your assets including property, savings and investments, income from all sources, and debts. If your husband refuses to make voluntary disclosure you can issue Court proceedings that will force him to do so.
In respect of your husband's pension there are three choices. Firstly it could be offset, giving him the rights to his entire pension in exchange for you receiving a greater portion of the capital assets of the marriage. Secondly you could apply for an earmarking order which would give you a share of his pension from the date of his retirement. This will, however, not give you a clean break settlement and if he deferred his retirement date so also would any payment to you be deferred. The final option is a pension sharing order, but the application for this cannot be made until after the Decree Nisi has been granted and must then be made within two months. It takes effect only after the Decree Absolute has been granted. You should seek legal advice about the best option for your particular circumstances.