This is a very relevant question given the newly released Scottish Widows research on women and pensions on divorce. The research shows that only 9 percent of married people claim they want a fair share of pensions despite the reality being that many people have pension pots worth more than their house. In fact 13 percent of people said they were worried about losing a pet compared to the 9 percent expressing concern over pensions!

The research showed that 71 percent of divorced people did not even discuss pensions as part of their divorce and in fact women miss out on as much as £5 billion in pension payments each year.

With 42 percent of marriages ending in divorce it is very concerning that only 11 percent of divorce court financial orders contained pension sharing orders.

The research stated that 48 percent of women don’t know what happens to pensions on divorce

These surprising statistics are perhaps destined to become even more stark with increasing numbers of people choosing to try to divorce without using a lawyer. Many people do not understand that pensions have a capital value (called the CEV) that can be divided on divorce – they usually just think of them as future income and they are often ignored if they are not yet in payment.

The principles of pension sharing, which was created as long ago as 2000 are very simple indeed. The divorce court has full power to divide a pension held by one spouse equally with the other spouse and will readily do so if the pension was built up largely during the marriage. It also has the power to divide a pension held by one of the parties before the marriage and will often do so. The separation process is straightforward and relatively inexpensive. The state pension should also be considered as often women have a deficient national insurance record compared to their husbands.

Even if you were divorced or separated many years ago and have done nothing about financial provision it is highly likely that the pension could be divided – it is generally only if a clean break order was made barring future pension sharing that nothing can be done . If you were divorced or separated some time ago and pensions were ignored it is well worth seeking legal advice to see if a claim could be made – the process is much easier than you may think and a fair share of the pension assets could give you a much more secure income.

Liz Allen is one of the UK’s leading divorce solicitors. She is partner and head of the family team at Stephens Scown LLP in Exeter, which has been given the top ranking by independent legal guides Chambers UK and Legal 500. Liz features on the Citywealth Leaders List, an international guide to the most highly regarded figures in private wealth management. Stephens Scown is the current UK Law Firm of the Year from the British Legal Awards. To contact Liz or her team, please call 01392 210700, email family.exeter@stephens-scown.co.uk