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The latest data suggests that only 14% of divorcees are splitting retirement assets when they break up, according to a national wealth manager.


Wealth manager Quilter says that many divorcing couples may be missing out on a valuable benefit as a result.

With relaxation of divorce rules on the way the company believes more people may choose to divorce without seeking financial advice and will lost out as a result.

The company, which includes Quilter Financial Planning, says it is possible some divorcing couples may be choosing alternative arrangements, for example where one party keeps their pension but relinquishes the family home, but this still ignores the possibility that a retirement pot may be the most valuable asset.

Quilter has looked at the latest figures from the Family Law Courts. These show that there were 118,408 petitions filed for dissolution of marriage in 2018, but only 14% contained “some sort” of pension settlement order.

This is despite a recent trend in people getting divorced later in life, it says. According to the Office for National Statistics, the median age of divorce for men and women has increased by 10 years between 1987 and 2017, says Quilter.

As people divorce later, this group has less time to build a retirement income if they did not have a pension of their own, meaning dividing this asset could be key to avoiding “pension poverty”, says Quilter. ONS data shows that 45% of women aged 65 or over have no private pension wealth. 

Since 2015 the use of pension attachment orders has increased by 61%, while pension sharing orders have risen by 41%. However, while both types of pension orders have increased in popularity, they still represent a relatively small percentage of total divorce cases, says Quilter.

Year

Petitions filed for dissolution of marriage

Pension sharing orders

Pension attachment orders

Total pension settlements

2011

129,313

9,152

2,283

11,435

2012

124,453

9,841

3,100

12,941

2013

117,508

9,538

2,888

12,426

2014

112,603

9,039

2,855

11,894

2015

114,571

8,197

2,993

11,190

2016

114,127

10,394

4,243

14,637

2017

109,353

11,822

4,351

16,173

2018

118,421

11,532

4,817

16,349

2019 (Q1-Q3)

88,217

8,586

3,395

11,981

Source: Quilter

Jon Greer, head of retirement policy at Quilter, said: “Divorce is an emotional and stressful period for those who have to go through it. However, it’s important that people think of these valuable assets when considering how they split their money. This is particularly problematic given the average age of divorcees and it is more likely that a woman will not have any sizable pension of their own.

“With rules around divorce potentially becoming more relaxed in the future via no-fault divorce laws, we could see a further increase in do it yourself divorces where specialist advice is not sought. This could see many miss out on important pension benefits.”

Chancellor Sajid Javid is likely to tackle some thorny pensions problems in his first post-election Budget which will take place on Wednesday 11 March.

As you will no doubt be aware, we have recently had the budget date announced as 11 March. This is somewhat later than anticipated, not least because the Conservatives pledged a post Brexit Budget in February as part of their election campaign.

Financial Planning-based adviser and pension benefits company LEBC has unveiled what it calls a ‘Bionic Advice’ service designed to make financial advice more widely available and more affordable.

HSBC Master Trust has become the first new master trust to be authorised by The Pensions Regulator which has so far focused on authorising existing schemes.

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