McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

Why is there so much upset in the Police?

I don’t know if it’s me or if there is something more pertinent going on at the moment but is there something going on within the Police Federation?

In the last few months I have received an increasing number of enquiries from members of the Police force – so why is that?

The Police obviously have an extremely difficult and stressful job to do.  They work very unsociable hours which ultimately places considerable strain on their family life and any relationship.  Over time Police Officers come face to face with horrific situations that they have to learn how to deal with.  If they don’t have a very good support system they find it difficult to discuss these things which lead to difficulties in the relationship. However it seems to me that more recently this stress is resulting in an increasing number of relationship breakdowns. 

Police relationships have certain significant factors that are individual to the police/armed forces.  Whilst some would argue that Police Officers do not earn a significant income they do receive other “perks” which other professions do not.  The most significant of these is a Police Officer’s pension.

A Police Officer’s pension is unique in that whilst it is a civil service pension it is the one asset that the majority of Police Officers wish to protect in the event of a marriage breakdown.

So what is the best way of addressing the Police pension?

There are 3 main ways that a pension can be used within a financial settlement:

1 – Pension offsetting – this is where the Police pension is retained by the Police Officer but the other party will receive a greater share in the remaining matrimonial assets to compensate them for losing their rights to their spouse’s pension.  The advantage of this is that the Police Officer gets to keep their entire pension. However, the downside is that the other party will require a full valuation of the Police Officer’s pension to ensure that they are compensated sufficiently. 

2 – Pension sharing – this is where part of the Police Officer’ s pension is taken from the Police Officer and placed in a scheme set up for their spouse.  Once this has been implemented this allows the Police Officer to once again build up their pension before they retire.  However if they have already retired then this will not be possible and their income will be reduced accordingly.

3 – Pension attachment – this is where once a pension is in payment the Police Officer’s spouse will receive a share of it – either by income or lump sum.  This may be appropriate if the pension is in payment but if the Police Officer is still working the spouse has to wait until they retire.  However, if the Police Officer continues to contribute towards the pension their spouse will ultimately receive a share of this as the split is only made upon retirement.  The pension attachment order is not used as much as a pension sharing order these days but can still be useful in some situations.  The order comes to an end should the spouse re-marry.

Irrespective of the actual order made the Police Officer will find that they will need to produce their CETV (Current Equivalent Transfer Value) of their pension.  Due to the fact that Police pension funds are underfunded schemes and Police Officers can retire earlier than other professions then an actuarial report will be required to assist in negotiating a financial settlement.

Every case is dealt with on its own particular facts and it is important to obtain quality legal advice to understand the options available to you.


Categories: Divorce & Family Law

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