2880X1040 Pensions And Divorce
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FOI reveals spike in online divorce petitions

  • Freedom of Information request1 reveals a 278% increase in online divorce petitions since May 2018, with over 207,000 submitted
  • Less than two in ten divorces have pension sharing orders2
  • Free guide published to assist couples

 

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request submitted by Canada Life reveals the number of people who have used the online service to file for divorce has increased by 278%.  Monthly petitions using the online service has risen to around 8,000 a month, from a low of 2,000 a month.  Over 207,000 petitions have been submitted since the online service was introduced in April 2018.

 

The increased use of the online service comes just as filing a petition for divorce has become much easier due to a change in the law with the introduction of the ‘no-fault’ divorce law from April 2022. The government has removed the requirement for a spouse to persuade a court that a marriage has broken down irretrievably, essentially making divorce an easier and quicker process for all parties.

 

Canada Life is warning the area of pension sharing on divorce is a very complicated area of financial plans and can be neglected when couples are separating. Separate data shows less than two out of every ten divorces have pension sharing orders attached to them, which suggests pensions are often ignored in any legal separation.

 

Andrew Tully, technical director, Canada Life commented:

“If you are facing the end of your marriage or civil partnership it is important not to overlook pensions. Divorce is one of the most stressful and painful times people go through. Adding pensions into the mix can be daunting, but not dealing with pensions can be a huge mistake.

 

“People often avoid or overlook pensions because they can seem complicated. Where there is a solicitor involved, they should know to get the pension valued. But where there isn’t, many people, especially women, opt to try to keep the family home without understanding the real value of the share of the pension they have given up. Add in the fact pensions are difficult to value and difficult to divide and we have a complex situation.”

 

Canada Life has produced a guide to help assist couples and their advisers navigate the complexities of pension sharing on divorce, available here https://www.canadalife.co.uk/pensions-and-divorce

 

A few financial tips following divorce

 

  • Couples often write wills to help with division of assets, but when you get married any existing wills are invalidated. When you get divorced any existing wills are respected unless they are updated
  • Pensions are a complicated area when looking at divorce and sharing orders, attachment orders or clean breaks are all available by way of sharing assets
  • Pensions in payment using annuities - on divorce, unless the death benefits for annuities are updated with new spouse details, the original beneficiary will receive any annuity benefits from guarantees
  • Control of assets on divorce – the use of trusts, including spousal bypass trusts, mean you can retain an element of control over assets
  • Investment Bonds can be assigned by Court order to ensure there is no tax due when assets are transferred.

 

 

  1. Source: Freedom of Information request submitted to the Ministry of Justice and replied 23rd March 2022. A copy is available upon request.
  2. Source: https://www.fairpensionsforall.com/gender-pensions-gap/ page 16
  3. Moneyhelper has a wealth of information on financial considerations and divorce and separation available here: https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/family-and-care/divorce-and-separation