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.