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In mourning for money

The prospect of sharing their pensions with ex-wives has appalled many men who now fear poverty in their old age. But some men are almost as distressed as their ex-wives that it has taken so long to improve women's pensions rights.

While working as a teacher and lecturer, Dr James Gibson, 75, paid extra pension contributions so that his wife would receive half his pension when he died. Unfortunately, the marriage broke up after he retired at 62. Several years later he decided to marry again and was appalled to be told by the then Department of Education and Science pensions department in Darlington that his ex-wife would, because of the divorce, lose the half share of the pension she had expected. His second wife would not have any entitlement to his pension either.

"I accept that a second wife might expect nothing as all my pension payments were made during the period of my first marriage, but that my ex-wife should lose her right to a pension on my death seems grossly unfair," said Dr Gibson, who lives in Dorchester.

The unfairness may not end there, however. His ex-wife, Joyce Gibson, 65, said that although her husband had been generous in the divorce settlement - "a sum of money is being left to the children but I am going to get the interest in lieu of a pension" - she was not sure whether she would actually ever receive the money.

"Now that care in the community has been introduced I am wondering what will happen if he has to go into a home. Will this mean that his money, and my interest, will disappear?"

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