Divorced women in the UK could be missing out on as much as £5 billion in pensions every year.
In a survey of more than 10,000 people, more than half of married people said they would fight for their fair share of any jointly-owned property in the event of a divorce. More than a third – 36 per cent – said they would also want their combined savings to be shared.
However there is a dramatic shift in attitudes when the question was pensions. Fewer than one in ten said they would seek a fair share in pensions even though the average retirement fund for a married couple is reportedly as much as £132,000.
Men are more likely to be financially prepared for retirement, the poll found, with 59 per cent of them having saved adequately for the future compared to just 52 per cent of women. Among divorced women, this figure is even lower and because they do not intend to claim a fair share of the pension fund, they can end up relying solely on the state.
The survey was conducted by investment and pension firm Scottish Widows. Retirement expert Catherine Stewart claimed that usually “women’s retirement prospects are worse than men’s” as a result of a “persistent gender pay gap, maternity leave and career breaks”.
Divorce only makes this problem worse she insisted, because not only can it “leave people really vulnerable”, the end of a marriage can also lead them to throw “significant sums of money down the drain”.
Stewart said it was important that both “men and women … better understand the legalities around what happens to pension pots during divorce proceedings, as often they are the second largest, if not the largest asset a couple owns”.