Currently, part of the pension benefits received by the non-member cannot be taken before age 60 and cannot be taken as a tax-free lump sum. In comparison, the member can take benefits from age 50 and can take 25 per cent as a tax-free lump sum.
The restrictions imposed on non-members will be scrapped from April 2009.
Standard Life senior pensions policy manager Andrew Tully says: “This change is long overdue and will be especially beneficial to women, who are more likely to receive pension benefits as part of a divorce settlement. Giving people more flexibility to take pension benefits when and how it suits them best is a welcome development.
“When going through an emotional upheaval like divorce or separation, pensions are unlikely to be at the forefront of people’s minds. But starting afresh can have serious implications on your financial future, so it is crucial to take expert financial advice.”