I am engaged in divorce proceedings and am currently at the Ancillary Relief stage. I am due in court for the Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearing on the 20th June 2012 and I am a litigant in person having had a massive bust up with an incompetent solicitor.
I was medically discharged from HM Forces in December 2009 aged 31. The only asset of my marriage is my Armed Forces Pension which is a Service Attributable Invaliding Pension.
The detail of this pension is below but my issue is that the Judge cannot get his head around the fact that my immediate pension is entirely that of an invaliding nature. He has requested that I demonstrate (by way of expert opinion) the occupational and invaliding elements of my pension because he beleives that having served for 12 years, some of the CETV must be related to time served.
I have tried to explain that upon medical discharge, the normal service pension becomes obsolete and the pension that replaces it has no bearing on time served, save that the qualifying criteria is that the serviceman has served for at least 2 years (I believe this to be the case).
The administrators of the pension have stated that they have no legal obligation to provide me with the information I require and it is not within their remit to do so.
Details of Service/Pension/Marrriage:
Marriage Dates: 17th October 2001 – Separated November 2006
Army Career: February 1997 – December 2009
Medically Discharged and in receipt of a Service Attributable Pension (SAP) including Guaranteed Income Payment (GIP) totalling £990.17 per month (£11,882.04 per year). This pension is tax free as discharge was attributable to service. I received an Invaliding Terminal Grant of £22,196.58.
I am also in receipt of a War Disablement Pension for a separate condition and receive £83.90 per week and an additional War Pensioner’s Mobility Supplement of £60.40 per week. These are paid as one sum every 4 weeks (£555.75), this is £7503.60 per year. I do not beleive that my wifes legal team has any intention to make a claim against this and I do not beleive that they could.
The CETV for my SAP was provided by the Service Personell and Veterans Agency and was valued at £196,442.92 on 15th July 2011. That valuation will expire within a couple of months.
1. The Judge in my Ancillary Relief proceedings does not understand that a SAP is not related to the length of service.
2. The Judge has requested that I provide proof regarding:
a. The effect a pension sharing Order would have on me in terms of monthly/annual loss.
b. What part of my pension is the occupational element and therefore, what part is the Invaliding portion.
3. The SPVA will not provide me with an answer to the above issues/questions as they state that it is not within their remit and they have no legal obligation to do so.
4. Despite the fact that my pension is quite clearly one that is in immediate payment due to ill health grounds and that it is an essential income stream awarded to me following medical discharge and having been separated from my Wife for 2 years at the time, my Wife’s Barrister is claiming a share of my SAP CETV.
5. The share sought is a 50% share of £81,852.05. It is this figure that they claim was accrued during the course of our 5 year marriage.
What I wish to demonstrate
1. That my SAP is not based on time served.
2. That my SAP does not have an occupational element.
3. The value of the pension that would have been in place upon our separation and that to award my Wife anything more than this would be unfair and constitute her benefiting directly from my misfortune and loss of career.
The SPVA have told me I must get an Actuaries report to demonstrate what I have tried to explain to the judge. That report would cost me somewhere in the order of £1000 plus VAT.
Finally, I live in England and the STBX lives in N. Ireland so I have had to fork out £800 in travel and board to be told to come back again and again. Please can anyone offer any advice?
In England and Wales hearings can now be by telephone. If all that''s going to happen is that the hearing will be adjourned with Directions, how about writing to the court to ask for a telephone hearing?
I take it that the the SPVA has confirmed all this to you in writing? If so, send the letter to the court and the other side if you have not already done so. Any actuary''s report will need to be on a joint instruction and at joint expense.
That is interesting and I will certainly contact the court in Belfast. I have found an Actuary that understands what I am trying to demonstrate in terms of fairness and my Wifes entitlement to my pension. I have never contested a 50% entitlement to the pension that I accrued during the course of our marriage (ie. Post Separation) but for her legal team to suggest that the same formula should be applied to the CETV of an immediate invaliding pension seems unfair, greedy and morally flawed. I don''t remember seeing my wife fighting alongside me on the streets of Basrah!
My case was further complicated by (as mentioned above) a solicitor that just wanted to split the pension as a normal occupational asset in the same way as the oposition were requesting. She decided to withdraw from representing me on the grounds that "Client/Solicitor relations had broken down" or as I see it, "I dont like having to justify my actions, seek instructions or inform my client when I make damaging offers without consulting him". Im currently making a complaint to the Law Society and refuse to pay her bill.
"Stage 2 – The Court Order
The Court Order could specify a share with your
former spouse or civil partner of anything
from 1% to 100% whether by AO, EO or PSO
of your former spouse or civil partner’s
pension benefits. Payments received under the
Early Departure Payment Scheme (EDP), the
Armed Forces Attributable Benefits Scheme
(AFAB), the War Pension scheme (WPS) or
Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS)
are excluded from being shared or attached as
they are not pension benefits but compensation
benefits, although these benefits may be taken into
consideration by the Court as part of offsetting,
a process used as an alternative to pension sharing."
I think that will prove useful. I shall forward this to my Actuary. Military Pensions seem to be a black art that few understand and finding any useable legislation to present to the court has been really hard especially with no support or advice from the SPVA.
I still find it unbeleivable that I have to pay an expert to communicate information I had already explained to the Judge because he simply refused to beleive me.
Surely the SPVA have a responsibility to the ex service folk to support them when we get broken and thrown on the scrap heap. I think to tell someone they need an actuary to produce an expensive report to provide information that is readily available is outrageous. They wouldn''t even tell me what effect the requested settlement (PSO) would have because they dont legally have to. If the order was made they would have to do the calculation then and inform me so why the attitude?
In theory it''s all there online in the legislation..but try understanding it...
I''d love to see posts from people who''ve recently shared AFPS pensions - how long/how much/what got shared/ what age for the full pension - there''s no substitute for personal experience.
I''d love to know what AFPS say in the letter to the ex-spouse pension credit member once the share''s been implemented - whether they''re given a "pension promise" eg you will get ££xxxx per year from age 65 index-linked etc....like a preserved pension statement or is there just confirmation of the amount their share of the CETV/CEB came to in the end?
Totally agree with that. My understanding is that the Pension Credit Member PCM (Spouse of Service Person) receives the agreed share of a PSO and presumably a seperate statement forecast as you say. I dont think the PCM''s PSO is inflation linked. It also attracts tax whereas the Pention Debit Member (PDM) ie. me, has both those benefits (because it is service attributable).
On the subject of the information you provided from the AFPS pamphlet on divorce I can say two things;
1. I already had it but was so weighed down with 2 years of divorce related paperwork I just missed it. Not seeing the wood for the trees type scenario I think.
2. That seems to state that my STBX and legal team have been chasing something (PSO) that they are not entitled to and is not enforceable since SPVA would just bat it away.
I am however a fair guy. I was married for 5 years and would, as I have maintained from day 1, be happy to give her a PSO or Cash settlement in direct proportion to the value of my pension pre medical dischargeie. 50% of its value over that period. It would seem however that if she has no legal claim on my Attributable Pension, associated lump sums or AFCS payments (and why should she? Im the one that lost my job and have pretty poor prospects in terms of future employment)and my now obsolete occupational AFPS75 then she will get nothing?
That makes no sense. I already made an offer of 15k cash in f&f settlement but that was clearly not enough and now it would seem she should have jumped at it.