When your marriage or civil partnership breaks down, your first priority is probably making sure you have somewhere to live, your children (if you have children) and being able to pay the bills. You will also be dealing with a lot of emotions from feeling sad, angry and frustrated to feeling exhausted, confused and anxious about the future. You have probably thought about your house and current income needs and savings but given little or no thought to your financial needs in retirement.
This is understandable as you are dealing with a lot and pensions seem complicated and not an immediate concern. You were not taught about pensions at school. You know a pension provides benefits in retirement, but the word pension seems dull, and you have no idea what benefits it will provide and how it can support a comfortable retirement. It is so easy to focus on the here and now and supporting yourself and your children in the moment. But not considering pensions in divorce proceedings can leave you underfunded in retirement and unable to live the life you want and deserve.
You are not alone!
If you have not given any consideration to your pensions, then you are not alone. 7 in 10 divorces do not consider pensions in their proceedings and this has impacted on women the hardest. This needs to be addressed as the number of women with inadequate pension provision in retirement is increasing. Divorces are on the rise, and figures by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (2020) showed that during the Coronavirus pandemic, women’s careers were affected the most, especially those with children.
Women face financial inequality
There are inequalities between the wealth of women and men. Statistics published by the Office for National Statistics showed that in 2020 the gender pay gap among all employees was 15.5% and that it is highest for women over 40. On top of this, many women have taken time out of work to raise children. Research commissioned by Now: Pensions found that on average, a woman in her 60s will retire with around £51,000 of savings compared to a man in his 60s who will retire with around £156,500 of savings. In an article published in July 2020 titled “Divorced women reach retirement with just £26,100, half of the average women’s savings” Now: Pensions highlight the financial hardship many divorced women endure in retirement due to inadequate pension income. In 2018 a divorced woman’s private pension income was 42% smaller than the UK average.
Address your pensions
Many divorced women are struggling in later life. Pensions are part of the assets that you build up together throughout your marriage or civil partnership and are so important for your retirement. You need to address your pensions now so that you reach retirement with a sufficient pension income. If you do not do this then in later life this will not only affect you financially, but it will also affect your health and wellbeing.
Take the first step
No matter how confusing or complicated you may find pensions, please do not ignore them. Yes, they are not the easiest things to understand, but take the first step and address the pension provision which you and your spouse or civil partner have.