It is currently possible on divorce for a wife to substitute her National Insurance records for that of her former husband’s. Such a substitution would not affect her former husband’s entitlement to state pension but it would generally ensure that both parties would have the same basic state pension following divorce. In order to take advantage of this substitution, a former wife has to make a formal application to the DWP and submit proof (usually a copy of her Decree Absolute).

However, this substitution will no longer be available for those wives reaching pension age after 2016 irrespective of the date of their divorce. This means that a former wife would be left with a lower state pension income on retirement. Quite often this arises because she has simply taken time out in order to raise the children and look after the home or only worked part time for part of the marriage. As a consequence a wife probably only paid a reduced stamp (known as the married women’s stamp which was abolished in 1977) or made no contribution at all.

There are a number of transitional arrangements proposed to lessen the impact on certain individuals, one of which affects married women who, prior to 1977, exercised her right to pay a reduced married women’s stamp. By its very nature it is only going to affect a small number of people, but there will be a few to who this applies to.

The relevant date will not be the date of the petition or Decree Absolute but the date upon which the wife reaches state pension age after 2016.

There are also further proposed changes in that the government is going to also withdraw the ability to share Additional State Pension. Although basic state pension cannot be split, it has been possible in the past to split any Additional State Pension. Any such orders to split the Additional State Pension made before the new Pensions Act becomes law should be honoured. This means that there is a deadline on these types of orders, which is likely to be April 2017.

CAPTION: Louise Sheasby. Chartered Legal Executive, Family Team

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