Earmarking allows an order to be made now against the pension income or lump sum which arises to one party on retirement. For example " I will get an order now against your pension which the pension trustees will carry out, giving me an income by way of maintenance and part (or all) the lump sum that you get when you retire".
Disadvantage: the maintenance comes to an end if the person receiving it remarries; although the lump sum does not lapse (unless that is expressly agreed). It is difficult to administer, especially if it is a long time until retirement. There are still uncertainties.
Earmarking is not available in cases where the divorce petition was filed before July 1996.