Divorce is wreaking havoc among the pension plans of the over 60s as the number of married couples splitting up on retirement continues to rise.
When financial arrangements of the divorce are worked out, courts in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have to consider any pensions and pension rights the couple has when splitting up.
This includes state, workplace and personal pensions.
In Scotland, any increase in pension fund values between the date of marriage or and the date of separation are considered.
However, expats who divorce in the UK will find the courts cannot take overseas pensions or pension rights like Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) into account, while many overseas courts will not consider pensions in a divorce settlement.
More over 60s breaking up
The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that although overall, the trend is for fewer divorces overall, the number of over 60s breaking up has soared.
In 2011, 9,500 couples aged 60 and over divorced – a 73% increase in the 20 years since 1991.
The ONS points out that although the number of men and women divorcing are equal; the number of men over 60 divorcing is higher than the number of women of the same age because many men have younger partners who do not show in the statistics.
The ONS argues research suggests three main reasons for the increase in grey divorce – and found that most marriage break ups are initiated by men over 60. The reasons cited are:
- Living longer – the ONS explained marriages involving men over 60 are more likely to end in divorce than the death of a partner
- No shame in divorce – In 1991, 404,000 people aged over 60 lived in England and Wales. This tripled to 1.3 million by 2010
- More women working – As the number of women working rose from 53% in 1971 to 66% in 2012, more women have pensions and can support themselves financially
No longer till death do we part
In 2011, the average length of marriage for a man aged over 60 years old was 27.4 years. Just 14% of men of this age were married for less than 10 years.
Women aged over 60 had an average marriage length of 31.9 years – another consequence of men marrying younger women.
The statistics also show that men aged over 60 are just as likely to file for divorce as women, while for couples under 60, only a third of divorces are started by men.