A “behavioural nudge” is to be added to the online divorce application service to try to prevent women missing out on a share of their former husbands’ pension pots.
The change has been announced in a new roadmap document from the Government Equalities Office to ensure that couples are aware of pensions sharing.
Little more than a third of divorcing couples include a sharing out of pensions within an agreement to divide up assets – putting the woman at risk of losing out on significant sums later in life.
Now women will be required to tick a box to confirm that they have considered their husband's pension pot before they can obtain an online divorce.
Anyone using the online system – managed by HM Courts and Tribunals Service – will see information about including pensions in any settlement. They will then be asked to say that they have considered the idea.
The online divorce applications service has proved popular since it was introduced a year ago, and ministers believe it has cut out most of the mistakes that meant many paper applications had to be returned. The entire process can now be completed online, including payment and the uploading of supporting evidence.
Women and Equalities Minister Penny Mourdant (pictured) said: “If a couple splits, we want to ensure women don’t struggle when they retire. Sadly, 42% of marriages end in divorce, but only 36% of asset sharing agreements include sharing of pensions – this means women lose out on financial security later in life.
“Government will be updating the online divorce process to ensure couples are aware of the benefits of pension sharing.”
The idea is included as part of a package of policies “to financially empower women from school to retirement”, Mordaunt said.
Ministers will also consult on changing a law that gives women only three months to decide whether to bring a sexual harassment or workplace discrimination case, the enforcement of equal pay legislation will be reviewed and a consultation launched on introducing paid leave for carers.
The document points out that women are more than three times more likely to work part time, tend to work in lower paid industries and jobs and have less wealth in private pensions.
Image by Russell Watkins, Department for International Development, CC BY 2.0