I am getting divorced - how does earmarking my pension benefits work?


  • Members

Rather than splitting benefits into two separate records on divorce, earmarked pension benefits only start being paid to an ex-spouse when a member chooses to take their own benefits. In England, Wales or Northern Ireland, these payments can be made from:

  • The member’s pension income
  • and/ or, the pension commencement lump sum (PCLS)

In Scotland, they can only be made from a:

  • pension commencement lump sum (PCLS)

While it's simple to understand, pension earmarking does have some considerations you need to understand:

  • If a member dies before they reach retirement, their ex-spouse or partner may receive nothing.
  • The ex-spouse or partner does not receive anything until the member starts to draw their retirement benefits
  • If the member retires early or stops contributing to their pension, their ex-spouse or partner may receive less than they expected.
  • If the member dies after they have started drawing their retirement benefits, any income payable to the ex-spouse or partner also stops.
  • Courts do prefer a ‘clean break’ approach to divorces and the dissolution of civil partnerships. Pension earmarking does not fit with this approach.