State Pension and Divorce

If you divorce, you can use your former partner's National Insurance (N.I.) record, instead of your own, to enable you to claim a better rate of State Pension. This will only make sense if you have not been able to build up a reasonably complete National Insurance record of your own, perhaps as a result of long periods spent unemployed or living in another country. If your former partner's National Insurance record would allow you a more generous State Pension you can use their record to claim a higher rate State Pension for yourself. If your former partner had a complete National Insurance record, you will be entitled to the maximum basic State Pension of £87.30 a week, at the current rates. However, if you remarry or form another civil partnership, you will no longer be entitled to use the National Insurance record of your former partner as the basis for your own State Pension.


If you divorce when you are both of State Pension Age or older, and you are receiving a pension based on your partner's National Insurance record, the State Pension that you are entitled to receive should remain unaffected. This is because the pension you receive will be based on your partner's record whilst they were married to you. Your entitlement will be affected however if you remarry or form another civil partnership.


If you divorce when you are of State Pension Age or older but your partner is not yet of State Pension Age, your pension entitlement will usually be based on their National Insurance record up to the tax year when you divorced. You should still be entitled to receive a State Pension based on their record, but this pension may not be of a very high rate if your partner still has many years of their working life ahead before they will be able to claim a full State Pension.


If you divorce but are not reliant on your partner's N.I. record to provide you with a pension, your National Insurance record and individual entitlement to a State Pension on retirement will not be affected by the change in marital status.


State Pensions are awarded based on the National Insurance record of the individual, and so it is not usual for an individual to have to share their basic State Pension as part of a divorce settlement. The ability to use your former partner's National Insurance record in place of your own prevents a partner who has spent the majority of their working life caring for children, unemployed and / or caring for ill relatives from facing retirement without a State Pension because they have divorced. It may be possible for a court to decree that SERPS or State Second Pension should be shared as part of a divorce settlement. This will depend on your individual case history, and you should be advised by your lawyer on what actions you should take following such a decision.


If you are uncertain about your entitlement to a State Pension, or whether you should use your former partner's National Insurance record as the basis for your own State Pension, you should contact the Pensions Advisory Service on 0845 601 2923 or the Pension Service on 0845 606 0265 for advice and information. For general details of the State Pension see The Basic State Pension.