You will have seen from my earlier blogs that I specialise in dealing with armed forces pensions on divorce.  A large proportion of my clients are either serving members of the armed forces, former members of the armed forces or a spouse of a serving or former member of the armed forces.

A lot of people approach me with the question:

How do I claim a share of my ex’s armed forces pension now that I am divorced/ing?

Unfortunately, you cannot just approach Veterans UK and explain how long you were married and ask them to pay you a proportion of your ex’s pension. Veterans UK will only pay the pension payments to the person who has served in the armed forces unless there is a court order telling them to pay the pension to the ex-spouse.

You also cannot just apply to the court for an order setting out how much of the pension the ex-partner is to receive.  Divorce proceedings need to be started if they have not already begun. The divorce then enables you to make an application to the court for an order setting out the division of the financial assets. Ideally, the application to the court will be by consent which means that you and your ex have agreed what is to happen to the assets and are submitting an agreed order drafted by solicitors.

The court does not have the power to deal with just one asset on a divorce, all the financial assets need to be dealt with in the order. This means that if there is any capital or a house then it needs to be decided what is to happen to those assets. It also means that you have to set out what spousal maintenance is to be paid if any. As part of that order, you will then set out what is to happen to the pension.

Dividing the Pension

There is no set formula as to how the pension is to be divided. The longer a couple have been married the more likely it is that the pension will be divided equally. For much shorter length marriages, it is possible that the pension may not be divided. Some couples will try to apportion the pension and share the pension which was built during the marriage only. Due to the unusual structure of armed forces pensions and because many serving members are members of more than one armed forces pension scheme we will often appoint an actuary to report on the pension and how to divide the pension. The role of an actuary requires its own blog but your solicitor should help you with working out what questions you want the actuary to answer. A separate blog is also required as to what type of order may be made over the pension as there are different options.

Once you have an order confirming the division of all the financial assets including the pensions then that order is sent to Veterans UK. A fee will usually have to be paid (the order will set out how that fee is to be shared) and then Veterans UK will change the way the pension is paid and give you your share of your ex’s pension.

Drawing the Pension

A non-serving member will not be able to draw on the pension which is transferred to them under a pension sharing order until they reach retirement age. A serving member who has served the required number of years can draw upon their share of the pension before retirement age.

If you’re needing an answer to the original question of how can you claim a share of your ex’s armed forces pension, I can guide you through this process. Please contact me to arrange a meeting to look at what you are likely to be entitled to and then work out the best option to move matters forward.

72 responses to “How do I claim a share of my ex’s Armed Forces Pension?

  1. Hi Hazel,
    My husband retired aged 48 from the Army rather than 55 so has been receiving his pension for 5 years now. Unfortunately he wishes to divorce, we have been married for 24 years. I note you say above that the spouse would not receive any of the military pension if shared until retirement age; however, I thought it could start being paid at 55? (I am 55).

    1. Thank you for your comment. The person receiving the pension share can only draw upon the pension at their chosen retirement age, the earliest at which retirement age can be is age 55.

    2. Thank you for your comment. If there was not an order made sharing the pension at the time you divorced from your husband then, unfortunately, the situation is correct. The pension can only be shared with you when you divorce by way of court order.

    1. Thank you for your comment. There is not a simple answer to your question. You will need to obtain a financial remedy order from the court which includes a pension sharing order. How you obtain the financial remedy order and the cost will depend upon the level of agreement between you and you ex-partner and the process you use. Each pension company charges a different fee to then implement the pension sharing order.

  2. I was married to my ex husband while he was in the army we divorced after 7 years (he was aggressiveat the time I just wanted to get away and didn’t go for any settlement we’ve been divorced over 30 years I never married again can I put in a claim for a share of his pension

    1. Thank you for your comment. If you have been divorced for 30 years, unfortunately, your divorce pre-dates the ability to obtain a pension sharing order. Your other financial claims may still be open but you would need to obtain specific advice as to whether that is possible.

  3. Will my ex husband sons be able to claim their dad’s military pension. Even though he has re-married?

    1. Thank you for your comment. I can advise on armed forces pensions in divorce. You would need to check with Veterans UK as to who could benefit from the pension in the event of your ex husband’s death.

  4. I was married to my husband from August 1985 and was divorced in December 1996 . He served in The R.A.F.
    How would I be able to find out his length of Service ?
    Would I be entitled to any of his Pension ?

    1. Thank you for your comment. You can only make a claim on the share of the pension in an application to deal with financial matters following the divorce proceedings. If a financial order was not made at the time you divorced then you are welcome to contact me directly so that I can ascertain whether I can help. If financial matters were concluded by way of an order following the divorce there is now no further ability to claim on the pension.

  5. Hi.my wife is starting divorce proceedings .I left home only with a microwave and a bed and usual clothes etc. I served from 1983 until 1989 and have a war pension. I was already discharged from the forces before I got with her.is she entitled to my military pension when I receive it at 55
    Regards Andrew Townsend

    1. Thank you for your comment. A war pension cannot be shared by way of a pension sharing order. You should take advice upon your situation about how the finances could be shared upon divorce. You are welcome to contact me directly and I can explain how I can help.

  6. I was married to my husband from 82 to 2009 and received a 50% share of his raf 1975 pension I knew the terms of the original pension and I was expecting a 25% lump sum and payment at 55 under the same terms and conditions as my ex husbands pension. However it seems more like well take half his pension and treat your pot differently .? Should that be the case I wrote to them and the forecast was for annual payment only ?

    1. Thank you for your comment. We cannot give advice on this forum. It may be worth you approaching the solicitor who advised you on this matter to see what explanation you were given at the time as to the impact of the pension sharing order and how this will be actuarially reduced if you draw it at age 55 rather than waiting until normal retirement age.

  7. Hello,

    How do i claim my my Pension, i was awarded on a pension sharing order last year,

    i will be claiming it in March next year

    1. Thank you for your comment. Contact Veterans UK in Glasgow who deal with pension sharing orders and they should be able to tell you how to draw on the pension.

  8. I was married to my husband for 14 years and now going through a divorce. My husband left the army after serving 22-years and started drawing his forces pension. He started drawing his pension including a lump sum about 18 months before we married. He has told me that as he started drawing his pension before we got married I am not entitled to a share of it. Is this true?

    1. Thank you for your comment. No, it is not correct that just because a pension is drawn upon before a marriage that it cannot be shared upon a divorce. It is a factor which may be taken into consideration when the assets are now divided but it will depend upon the other assets and what needs are to be met. I would recommend that you take advice upon your specific situation to understand more about how all the assets, including the pension, could be divided. You are welcome to contact me directly if you would like to know how I can help.

  9. My son as just passed away he left the army some years ago, he has two daughters with his first partner, then he married someone else which only lasted a short wile they didn’t divorce, then he another relationship had another child (16_13_3)age’s of kids, my fear is can his wife still claim his army pension as my son wanted it all to go to his girls

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’m sorry to hear of the loss of your son. Unfortunately, this is not an area we can help with. You should contact Veterans UK directly to find out who is entitled to claim under the pension.

  10. Hi there. I have been married for painstaking 6yrs with a British soldier. Things have been rough this entire time. We are finally getting a divorce. Will I (spouse) qualify for any of his pension or support from the army? He retires in 5-6 years.
    Thanks

    1. Thank you for your comment. We cannot give advice on this forum. You may be entitled to a small share of the pension but we would need a lot more information about your situation to be able to give any advice as to possible entitlement. You are welcome to contact me directly if you would like to know how I can help.

  11. Hi, I have a pension sharing order for my ex-husband’s RAF pension. I’ve just had a letter from Glasgow to say that in order to proceed he has to oay 100% of the invoiced charge.
    Do you know what this is please? There is no way he will pay it so will I need to return to Court?
    Thanks, hayley

    1. Thank you for your comment Hayley. Most pension providers, including Veterans UK, charge a fee to implement a pension sharing order. The pension sharing annex will specify how that fee is to be shared. If your ex husband will not pay then you can return the matter to court or it may be that Veterans UK will accept payment of his share from you. It may be worth speaking to Veterans UK to ask if you can pay if you feel that is easier than returning to court. If that does not work then you should seek advice on your specific circumstances as to the exact options available to you.

  12. Hello I met my husband whilst we were both in army I left after 3 yrs in 1985 so have no army pension we were married for 20 yrs 9 of which he was serving (did 12 in total) we split up 10 yrs ago but are still legally married (neither have taken steps to divorce) would I be entitled to a portion of his pension I am 64 he is 58 please

    1. Thank you for your comment. If you have not yet divorced then you can look at starting divorce proceedings and seeking a financial order which includes a pension sharing order. Please feel free to contact me directly if you would like to know how I can help further.

  13. i have a pension sharing scheme of my ex husbands raf pension but my friend who had her husband was allowed it at the age of 55 is this still the same now ?

    1. Thank you for your comment. Yes, it should be possible to draw down on your share of the pension at age 55. You will receive an actuarially reduced sum as the pension will be paying out for a longer period of time. You should take financial advice if you want to understand the impact of drawing on the pension from age 55.

  14. Hi I was married to my ex husband from 83 to 92 he never told me about his pension he as since left the army a couple years ago he gets a lump sum monthly would I be able to any of his pension thanks

    1. Thank you for your comment. Your divorce predates the law which allows pension sharing orders to be made and so sadly you could not apply through the divorce court for a pension sharing order.

  15. Hi my husband was previously married for 6 years and was serving in the army. On divorce there was no pension sharing order. They have been divorced for 8 years. Could she still claim a share of his pension?

    1. Thank you for your comment. That is a difficult question to answer without further information. If there was a financial order finalising the financial claims then she will not be able to make a claim. If there was not a financial order then she may still be able to make a claim. If there was not an order do feel free to contact me directly if you would like to know how I could assist.

  16. Hi,
    I have started divorce proceeding against my husband when we split up two years ago. We are at the nisi stage.
    He retired from the Army after 24 hrs in 2015 and has his pension now.
    We were married in 2007 and already had a 4 year old boy together.
    Can I claim on his pension, and if so, when could I draw on it bearing in mind it is has been paid to him each month since December 2015?
    Regards

    1. Thank you for your comment. You should obtain advice on how finances can be resolved, including the pension and you should obtain the advice before applying for the Decree Absolute in the divorce. You are welcome to contact me directly and I can explain how I can assist.

  17. My new husband was previously married and retired in his early 40s (now 54) and draws a military pension. He still has not got a financial settlement following divorce from his ex wife.
    Does he need to have his pension in his clean break order or does this pension end if he passes first – ie is it irrelevant as it wouldnt pass to anyone?

    1. Thank you for your comment. It would be worth your husband taking advice on whether he would benefit from obtaining a financial order. From the information you have given his first wife would not automatically benefit from death benefits under the pension if he were to pass away but she may be able to make a claim on his estate or even still make financial claims generally without an order. He is welcome to contact me directly with a little more detail to see if he should take steps.

    2. Hi,

      I got divorced in 2008 from my ex spouse with no financial orders, we legally separated for 2 years after one year of marriage. I am due to retire from the military in five years and will be pensionable on discharge 2025. My ex partner is now intending to make a claim on my pension, what would the likely outcome be ? what would my ex spouse be entitled too ? What can I currently do about this ?

    3. Thank you for your comment. As you will have seen, we cannot give advice on this forum. More information would be needed before anyone would could give you advice as there are a series of factors which are taken into account when the assets are divided. You are welcome to contact me directly so I can explain how I could help and answer your questions.

  18. HI My partner was married and tried applying for a divorce 5 years ago but his wife refused to sign. She has now said she will sign divorce but wants a share of his pension as she see’s the life he has now got for himself (through hard work at his new job) and she wants some of that lift. They were together for 13 years during his 22 years service. She has stated that she’ll accept a lump sum payment (just as her best friend has received from her divorced husband). What is the best course of action here for him?

    1. Thank you for your comment. You will have seen that we cannot give advice on this forum. We would also need a lot more information to be able to give advice, to include pension values, knowledge of the rest of your partner and his ex-wife’s financial positions, whether there are children. You are welcome to contact me directly and I can explain how I help new clients.

  19. Good Evening,
    I was wondering if you could offer some generic advice?
    My husband is due to retire from the army within the coming months after 23 years of service and will be entitled to an immediate WO1’s pension.
    His ex wife has now come out of the woodwork and is demanding an eye watering Share of both his monthly pension and his lump sum gratuity payment.
    They were married for 8 years (all of which was during his time Serving-from the rank of Pte up until Cpl) and have now been divorced for almost 13years.
    I don’t believe there was any financial agreement incorporated into their divorce. (Ie: she sent him standard divorce papers and he simply signed them and sent them back-With no court appearances/negotiations etc) and she certainly made no mention of her intent to claim his pension during this time. In the divorce papers, it does state that neither party is entitled to make any financial claims against each other from the date of the decree absolut onwards.
    His ex wife has also since remarried (3years ago)
    Could you advise if his ex wife does in fact have any rights to claim his pension and/or lump sum? and if so, an idea of what percentage she would be entitled to?
    If entitled, would she be within her rights to demand immediate payment directly from him? (I read that the non serving person would only be entitled to draw from it at state pension age) Would this be a legal matter that she will need to go to court to request or can she (as she is currently trying) insist that we simply pay her 50% of both his lump sum and his monthly pension with no questions asked?

    I have been married to my husband for 11 years if this makes any difference?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated

    1. Thank you for your comment. You will have seen that we cannot give advice on this forum. If you would like to contact me directly and send me a copy of the petition and if made, the financial order, then I may be able to answer quite quickly whether your husband’s first wife has the potential to make a claim on the pension. Her remarriage could mean she is unable to make a claim but we would need to check the documents.

  20. I have seperated from my husband after being married for 6yrs. My husband is due an army pension from serving for 7yrs previously he is nearly 50 and I think he receives it at 50. He does not want a divorce am I entitled to any of his pension

    1. Thank you for your comment. You will have seen that we cannot give advice on this forum. You are welcome to contact me directly and I can explain how I can help. We would need a lot more information from you to be able to advise on the likely division of the assets.

  21. I was married to my ex the whole 11yrs he was in the army, dutifully following him around, bringing up our children. we were divorced just as he left the army. this was between 1980 – 1991. We just got the normal joint decision of a divorce, would i be entitled to a share of his pension?

    1. Thank you for your comment. It will depend upon the date of your divorce petition and whether a financial order was made following the divorce as to whether you could now make a financial claim against your ex-husband. Your divorce may pre-date the date on which pension sharing orders were introduced. You are welcome to email directly with further details to see if we can establish whether you can make a claim.

  22. My partner is going through a divorce, he has no assets, and his wife spent everything he earned and received for injuries during his 22yrs service. Is she entitled to any of his monthly pension, there are no young children and he has only his pension and his small salary. She is demanding 40% but he won’t be able to work up to normal retirement as injuries are already catching him up and this would be his only income in the end.

    1. Thank you for your comment. We cannot give advice on this forum. Your partner is welcome to contact me directly so I can explain how I can help.

  23. My husband and have been separated for 3 years and are getting divorced. He served with the British army for 20 years. We now live in Canada and have a legal Separation Agreement which states how finances (including pension) are to be divided. Can this Canadian document be used as a court order for dividing the UK army pension? We do not travel back to the UK together.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Veterans UK would not share the pensions without an English court order. The Canadian document could not be used. However, there are options to have the agreement in Canada recognised by the English court and therefore enable Veterans UK to act upon the agreement reached. You are welcome to contact me directly so that I can explain how I could assist.

  24. My ex has received a lump sum backdated War Pensions payment, as a former common law wife having been together 15 years with a child together, do I have a claim to some part of this?

    1. Thank you for your comment. If, when you use the phrase “common law wife” you mean that you were not married to your partner then I’m afraid there is no basis to make a claim for a pension sharing order. These are only available following a divorce. War pensions also cannot be made subject to a pension sharing order as they are not considered a pension in the usual way.

  25. My ex was in the forces for 22 yrs leaving in 2012, my divorce has been left with pension & maintenance open, 2012 I was married 18 years,
    I was told to claim before he’s 55 which is next year, I am finding it difficult to find a solicitor that knows about military pensions as all information I come across is geared towards serving or ex military, I do not know where to start?

    1. Thank you for your comment. I often advise the spouse of a serving member of the armed forces. Age 55 is when the pension payment often increases and so is a relevant date but we would take that into account when looking at any division of the pension. You are welcome to contact me directly and I can explain how I can help.

  26. Hi
    Do you have to have been married to make a claim on a person’s pension.. my ex lived with me for 4 and a half yrs. I unfortunately put him on my mortgage with a promise of He would not take more than £3000 if we split up as all the money was mine from a divorce, he paid nothing unfortunately he went for half £20.000 plus he’d put debt on it .

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’m afraid that it is only possible to obtain a share of a pension if you were married. Pension sharing is not currently available to couples who cohabit without marrying.

  27. My ex husband served in the army from 1974-1993 and I was married to him from 1977-1994 and have never remarried, he passed away 2 years ago and was wondering if I’m entitled to claim any of his pension?

    1. Thank you for your comment. I’m afraid that at the time you divorced pension sharing orders were not available and so you will not be able to make a claim on his pension.

  28. Hi I divorced my wife in 1998 having served from 1970 to 1993 we married in 1973. When we divorced our financial agreement was that she kept all of our savings and also kept our house which she then took over the mortgage payments. It was agreed verbally that I would keep my Army pension. Now that she is close to drawing her OAP can she make a claim on my pension.

    1. Thank you for your comment. Your ex wife will not be able to automatically make a claim on your pension. Your divorce predates pension sharing orders and so she would not be able to seek a pension sharing order. If there was not a financial order at the time of your divorce financial claims may still be open and it could be worth obtaining legal advice on your situation. You are welcome to contact me directly if there was not a financial order at the time of the divorce and I can explain how I could help.

  29. Hi, my friend is due to receive his military pension in a few years. He has separated but not divorced and is worried she will take half the pension despite her having had a affair. Would this nul her rights?

    1. Thank you for your comment. It is very rare that the reason for the breakdown of the marriage to impact upon how the assets are divided. Your friend would need to take advice on his situation to find out what the likely outcome could be.

  30. I’m not divorced from my husband but we’ve been separated for 35 years and he entered the national guard during our marriage. He retired and I have nit received anything . Am I entitled to anything at all? I do receive alimony from him but nothing to do with his military retirement . I was told I’d have to divorce him in order to get anything, is this true ?

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am assuming from your post that you are living in America. I can only provide information about sharing pensions in England and Wales. You will need to seek advice from a lawyer in America about your situation.

  31. Hello.
    We married in 1989 but divorced in 1996. My husband was in the navy when we married and left around 1 year later. We stayed very good friends over the years until his sudden death last year. He hadn’t written a will and therefore his estate is intestate. Am I entitled to his navy pension? The solicitor tells me they have sent my decree absolute to the MOD and it’s up to them who gets a share. He has 2 half siblings, no children, never re married.
    Many thanks

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear about your ex-husband’s passing. As you are no longer married you will not automatically be entitled to a widow’s pension and it will be at the discretion of Veterans UK as to whether you are entitled to any of the pension.

  32. Hi i have a pension sharing order in place with my ex husband that was in the army through a court order attached to our divorce
    i have all the legal documents in place but still a little confused

    the letter says my pension credit benefits are due at 65 or 55 years old
    is this a lump sum or a benefit like the pension i would receive monthly
    if i take it out earlier at 55 will i get penalised and the amount will be considerably lower cash payment?

    Thank you
    Claire

    1. Thank you for your comment. This is an area you would either need to query directly with Veterans UK or an independent financial adviser who specialises in armed forces pensions.

  33. Hi I’ve been separated 4 years now waiting for decree absolute it has been arranged for me to have a 42% off my ex pension on a pension sharing order can you advise can I take a lump sum at 55 years

    1. Thank you for your comment. You can draw upon the pension at age 55 but should take independent financial advice before doing so to understand the impact of drawing upon the pension at this age.

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