Published on January 6, 2023

The term Pensions on Divorce Expert (PODE) is wide-ranging and encompasses those who write expert witness reports and those that don’t. For the purpose of this section I will focus on The PODE’s that provide expert witness reports.

Pensions can often be a significant proportion of family wealth and need to be shared in the same way as non pension assets as part of a divorce. There are many different types of pensions and it is therefore not as simple as adding them up and then halving as this solution will inevitably not provide equality in retirement. For additional information with regard to the treatment of pensions in divorce I would refer you to ‘A survival guide to pensions on divorce’ which is available at www.advicenow.org.uk.

What I do

The report writing PODE effectively crunches the numbers in order to provide a report that assists divorcing parties to reach an agreement from an informed position. This analysis is typically, but not exclusively, aimed at calculating the pension sharing order(s) required for the parties to receive a similar income in retirement based on benefits that have accrued to date.

It is sometimes the case that one party will wish to retain their pension whereas the other may wish to receive a greater proportion of the non pension assets, say equity within a property. The pension on divorce expert will also calculate the non pension assets that should be transferred should a pension sharing order not be implemented. As with most things this is not necessarily an all or nothing calculation and a solution maybe part pension share part offset, these figures would also be provided. 

Where there are court proceedings the report is provided jointly to the parties as part of the court process.

The PODE can be engaged outside of the court process whether this be within mediation or collaborative law and in these scenarios is able to explain the report to the parties jointly if this is deemed beneficial.

What I don’t do

The report writing PODE does not provide advice or recommend any particular solution to the parties.  The duty is typically to court and advice is provided to the court with regard to the solutions as opposed to individual advice to one or both of the parties.

If personalised advice is required this can sometimes be provided by the none report writing PODE and is typically provided on an individual basis to one party.

What qualifications, memberships and experience to look for

PODE’s come from a range of professional backgrounds, typically these will be either actuaries, financial advisers, financial planners of former financial planners.

There is currently no professional qualification or regulatory system for PODE’s, nor is there a database or list of PODE’s.  The best route to a PODE is via a referral, solicitors, mediators and the courts should be able to provide details for a number of  PODE’s.  From there you should then do your own research with regard to fees and the experience of the PODE, which will be available from a Fee Quote and a CV.

Top tips for getting the most out of my profession

Be as precise as you can with what you are asking the PODE to do and try to limit the number of calculations (i.e use the retirement age that is most likely, asking for figures at multiple ages will increase the complexity of a report and also the cost).

Be clear about what you are seeking to achieve and make this clear to the PODE.  Whilst the PODE will not provide advice they will try to provide you with the information you require with which to reach an agreement.

Read ‘A survival guide to pensions on divorce’ in order to gain an understanding of the types of pensions and the options available prior to instructing a PODE.

Postscript. There are some very informative and thoughtful articles on this hub about appointing professional support. This is one such example.

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Money and Finances

Sorting out money and finances or assets (what you and your ex acquired or built up that has economic value during your relationship) post separation can sometimes be contentious, especially if you are not married or in a civil partnership. Examples of assets would be the family home, land, business, pensions and savings. Knowing and understanding both your financial position and your ex-partner’s will provide clarity and help you understand each other’s commitments. The more transparent you are with your money and finances, the easier it can be to come to a conclusion which suits both of you. If you’re not honest and your ex-partner later finds out you tried to hide something, they could go to court and ask for more money from you.

How Are Assets Split In A Divorce?

It is a myth that all assets are split 50:50. The aim is for finances to be based on what is fair and that might mean you or your ex-partner not getting the same amount. In general the following areas are considered when trying to work out a fair settlement:

Dependent children

The financial needs and responsibilities of both parties The standard of living before the marriage breakdown The age of yourself and your partner The duration of the relationship, including any time spent living together before the marriage/partnership Any disabilities or health concerns that impact your day-to-day life The role each party played in the marriage, such as primary caregiver and breadwinner/primary wage earner. You may be able to negotiate your own financial settlement without any professional intervention; however, if there are considerable assets it is worth getting professional advice.

Can Mediation Help Sort Out Money And Finances When Separating?

If you can't agree on a settlement with your ex-partner then it is worth considering mediation. This is a cost-effective way of trying to resolve differences over money and property. You will both have to fill in a financial disclosure form when you go to mediation. This shows how much money you’ve got going out and coming in and it's a good starting point for discussions. We have lots of advice and support on this hub including helping you to choose the right professional support for your situation.

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