Divorce slices £3,100 off annual retirement incomes and makes it more likely you'll be laden with debt

Oliver Gill
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Actor John Cleese has gone through three divorces (Source: Getty)

Divorcees can expect substantially lower retirement incomes, according to a study prepared by insurance giant Prudential.

Individuals who haven't been through a divorce can expect pension pots to generate average annual incomes of £19,400, if retiring this year. This compares with divorcees, whose annual retirement income will average £16,300.

Prudential pensions specialist Clare Moffat explained the financial impact of divorce can be "devastating in the short and longer-term".

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She added: "Deciding on living costs and childcare at the point of divorce is difficult enough, but a pension fund is likely to be one of the most complicated assets a couple will have to split in the event of a divorce."

In addition, the analysis found divorcees are much more likely to be laden with debt. One in three non-divorcees can expect to retire with debts, compared with one in five of those who have not been divorced.

The Prudential findings come as part of a poll of more the 10,000 people.

The findings were backed up by a separate study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. Its 2016 analysis found 21 per cent of divorcees can expect to have annual retirement incomes lower than the foundation's minimum benchmark of £9,712 a year. This compares with 13 per cent of those which have not been divorced.

Divorce rates falling

In better news, figures released in December 2016 by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggest divorce rates are falling.

There were 111,169 divorces in 2014, the latest available data, a three per cent decline compared with 2013. Divorces peaked in 2003 and the 2014 figures are 27 per cent lower.

The only group where divorces are rising is women aged over 55, ONS figures showed.

Moffat said: “The rise in divorce rates among women aged 55-plus is particularly worrying as women, unfortunately, tend to have lower retirement incomes than men.”

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Richard Collins, a divorce lawyer at Charles Russell Speechlys said: “Given recent pension changes and the increased flexibility of some pensions, there is a rising trend for divorcing wives to seek a pension rather than taking other assets in place of pensions, which used to be the typical position.

"Additionally, new pension rules allow some pensions to be passed down one or two generations in a tax-efficient manner. These advantages appear to be attractive to increasing numbers of divorcing wives who are keen to trade other types of assets in a financial settlement to secure pension provision.”

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