Divorce ‘grossly exacerbates’ gender pensions gap

Three-fifths (60 per cent) of women did not get a share of their ex-spouse’s pension as part of the financial settlement in their divorce, while 12 per cent were not sure whether they did, a survey by Stowe Family Law has discovered.

The survey, which was conducted among 400 women aged 35 to 64 across the UK, also pointed towards women being relatively unaware of their spouse’s private pension, with a quarter of married women unaware whether their spouse had a private pension, while 77 per cent did not know the value of it.

Meanwhile, the survey also found that 17 per cent of women said they do not have a private pension because they do not understand them and 70 per cent of women who did have one did not know the value of it.

Stowe’s survey looked at the pension gender gap across women’s careers, and found that the gap starts at 17 per cent and reaches 56 per cent at retirement.

The research also found that 54 per cent of women have a private pension and, of those who do not, 58 per cent responded that this is due to not earning enough to qualify, as many women work part-time roles or are on zero-hour contracts.

Stowe’s survey also looked into the cost-of-living crisis and discovered that 87 per cent of adults have seen an increase in their cost of living, with contributions being made into pension pots falling as a result.

Stowe Family Law partner, Matthew Taylor, commented “At Stowe, it is extremely common for women to say that they want the matrimonial home in a divorce and don’t mind the husband keeping his private pension in full.

“This was backed up by our survey, which revealed that half of women aren’t convinced that they would consider the pension pot as an important factor in a financial settlement upon divorce.

“Financially-speaking, failing to take into consideration the pension pot during divorce proceedings is an unwise move – especially for women.

“We encourage women who are going through a divorce to think about the long-term financial ramifications of not seeking a share of their spouse’s pension. This is more important than ever, at a time when the cost of living is the highest it has been in 40 years.

“We must debunk the assumption that pensions are too complicated to be worth understanding. Women who receive a share of their ex-spouse’s pensions will reap the much-needed benefits later in life when so many women would otherwise be faced with retirement poverty.”

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