The simple answer to this question is yes! According to some research just published by Scottish Widows, 9% of people questioned want to fight for a share of their partner’s pension pot and 13% are concerned about losing a pet.
Given this country’s concern for animals, it is perhaps not surprising. However, bearing in mind for most couples who divorce nowadays, their joint pension pot is either the first or second most valuable asset, alongside the equity in their home, it needs to be considered. The research mainly highlights the inequality in pension provision between men and women. It shows in terms of money saved: men have pension pots at least as twice as big as their partner’s. Also, women, even under the auto-enrolment schemes, contribute 25% less than men. There are obvious reasons for some of this: the gender pay gap, career breaks, etc., but it remains a point of concern.
Equally concerning, given that 40% of marriages end in divorce, is the fact that 7 out of 10 couples do not even raise pension on divorce. This means women lose out even more. The report reveals that whilst 36% of people would want a split of combined savings, only 9% of people want a fair split of their partner’s pension pot.
As a divorce lawyer, I do not find these figures surprising and they reflect my experience with clients. Often you have to do quite a lot, just to explain what a valuable asset a pension is and secondly that it needs to be an integral part of any settlement. Pensions can be complex and certain types difficult to fully evaluate, but it is worth looking into them properly and, if necessary, getting an actuary to tease out the correct value.
Moving forward, it is hoped that over time the disparity will diminish as the pay gender gap reduces and with increased use of auto-enrolment, but not in the short term.
As to whether pensions are more valuable than pets – who knows? As a lawyer, I think so, but I leave answering that question to you!
Mark Chanter is a consultant in the family law team at Stephens Scown in Truro. To discuss pensions on divorce or any other divorce issue please call 01872 265100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org