It is presently expected that the changes required to enable pension sharing to take effect will be implemented by the end of 2000. At present, where a couple divorce any pension benefits can only be dealt with either by offsetting or earmarking. The introduction of pension sharing will mean that clients and family lawyers will need advice on the optimum method of dealing with pension benefits on divorce as well as advice on how best to deal with any benefits which are to be shared (eg. would a spouse be better advised to leave a "pension credit" under the member's occupational scheme, if permitted, or to transfer this to another suitably approved scheme?)
The rules on pensions and divorce are highly complex and pension scheme trustees will also need advice on what additional requirements are imposed on their scheme as a result of the pension sharing regulations. They will also need advice on what options are available (eg. should they permit the ex-spouse to retain their "pension credit" within the scheme and, if so, what benefits should be offered in respect of that credit?)
With over 150,000 divorces annually in England and Wales, this will mean considerable opportunities to develop further pensions business.