Divorce costs thousands in retirement income

And forces many to delay retirement plans

Senior woman having headache
Divorcees retiring this year will get £2,100 a year less than those who have never been through a marriage break-up.

According to Prudential, which has tracked the plans and aspirations of people planning to retire in the next 12 months, the average expected retirement income of divorcees is £15,700, compared with £17,800 for the never-divorced.

More than one in three of this year's retirees will be affected.

One in five will retire with outstanding debts, averaging £22,100 - a little higher than the never-divorced, who owe on average £21,700.

"Although the emotional impact of divorce may have long passed, it could come as a shock for people to find that it continues to impact them financially into their retirement," says Clare Moffat, pensions specialist at Prudential.

One in five of those who have been divorced expect a retirement income that's below the Joseph Rowntree Foundation minimum income standard for a single pensioner of £9,500. Only 14% of those who have never divorced expect the same.

And, unsurprisingly, the research also shows that people approaching retirement are more likely to delay the date of their retirement - 13% do so, compared with 11% of the rest.

One reason divorcees have it harder is that their lives are shaken up during what are often their peak earning years.

"During a divorce the costs can quickly mount up, with legal fees, the cost of setting up a new home and the effect of splitting any existing retirement savings all potentially impacting the ability of those involved to continue saving into a pension," says Moffat.

"Unfortunately divorce is most likely among those aged 40-44, the period in many people's lives when earning potential peaks and the most valuable pension contributions can be made."

However, many of these divorcees - mostly women - are suffering more from a failure to secure a share of their ex-partners pension at the time of the divorce.

Research from Scottish Widows last year revealed that a staggering 84% of women fail to consider their husband's pension during a divorce. And with women saving an average of only £206 a month into their pension, compared with £298 for men, this matters.

Prudential warns people going through a divorce to think carefully about the long-term implications.

"A pension fund is likely to be one of the largest and most complicated assets a couple will have to split in the event of a divorce," says Moffat.

"Professional advice is particularly important in the face of the recent changes to pensions legislation and divorced retirees acting on advice received under the previous rules may want to consider seeking updated advice on any post-retirement plans they have made."

Seven retirement nightmares

Seven retirement nightmares

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