Divorcees may be in for a shock if they are expecting a share in their ex-partner’s pension thanks to the new pension freedom reforms.

Those who had an ‘earmarking order’ drawn up as part of their divorce may find that it is no longer valid under the new rules.

Financial experts are urging anyone who thinks they may be affected to seek financial advice as soon as possible.

An earmarking order should pay out a fixed percentage of an ex-partner’s pension once they start to draw on it as income.  However, because this is a fairly old regime in theory a person could draw some or all of the cash from their pension, leaving their ex-partner in the cold with either a smaller than expected pension income, or in the worst case scenario – none at all.

As of this April, anyone who has a defined contribution pension now has the freedom to access it and use the money as they see fit once they reach the age of 55.

Previously a pension saver would have needed to buy an annuity – which would give them a guaranteed income for the rest of their retirement and protection for their partners if they were to die first – or take out a drawdown product where a yearly amount could be withdrawn and the rest left to continue investing in the fund.

Divorcees need to ensure that the wording on their earmarking order specifies that their entitlement remains intact if their ex-partner takes some or all of their pension pot as cash or find out whether they can make an amendment which safeguards their share.

Only those who were divorced more than 15 years ago are likely to be affected by the recent changes.  Anyone divorcing after December 2000 usually agreed upon a cash transfer of a percentage of the pension, called a ‘pension sharing order’ so the break up was less complicated and drawn out.  Anyone with a pension sharing order will not be affected as they will have already received the amount agreed and put the money into their own pension scheme.