Easier divorce rules have fuelled a surge in online applications with this set to continue, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
Monthly petitions for divorce have risen from a low of 2,000 a month to about 8,000 a month and potentially created a new need for financial advice, according to Canada Life which submitted the FOI request.
The Freedom of Information request submitted by Canada Life reveals the number of people who have used the government’s online service to file for divorce has increased by 278% since it became available.
Over 207,000 divorce petitions have been submitted since the online service was introduced in April 2018.
Canada Life says the increased use of the online service comes just as filing a petition for divorce has become much easier due to a change in the law with the introduction of the ‘no-fault’ divorce law from April 2022. The government has removed the requirement for a spouse to persuade a court that a marriage has broken down irretrievably, making divorce easier and quicker.
Canada Life warns, however, that pension sharing on divorce is a very complicated area of Financial Planning and fewer than two in 10 divorces have pension sharing orders. It says this area can be neglected when couples are separating.
The firm is concerned that pensions are often being ignored in any legal separation and the rise in divorce numbers will cause more issues.
Andrew Tully, technical director, Canada Life, said: “Divorce is one of the most stressful and painful times people go through. Adding pensions into the mix can be daunting, but not dealing with pensions can be a huge mistake.
“People often avoid or overlook pensions because they can seem complicated. Where there is a solicitor involved, they should know to get the pension valued. But where there isn’t, many people, especially women, opt to try to keep the family home without understanding the real value of the share of the pension they have given up. Add in the fact pensions are difficult to value and difficult to divide and we have a complex situation.”
Canada Life has produced a free guide to help assist couples and advisers. It is available here https://www.canadalife.co.uk/pensions-and-divorce