Average age of divorce at an all-time-high

Agreeing pension separation is more important than ever.

New data released today[i] reports that the average age of divorce has reached an all-time high at 45 years and 11 months for men and 43 years and six months for women.

Private pension wealth is the biggest component of household wealth in the UK[ii]. Agreeing a fair separation of this pension wealth at a time of divorce will be important to the future financial well-being for both parties.

The rising age of divorce

In good news, the overall number of divorces is down to 101,000 – a number not seen since the early 1970s.

The average age of divorce, however, is rising, to over 45 and 43 for men and women, respectively. For both sexes, the average age of divorce has been rising by about three months every year over the past decade. It has risen by about 10 years since records began in 1950.

Pensions – our biggest asset at a time of divorce

The UK holds a massive £11.1 trillion pounds in household wealth[iii]. Private pensions represents the biggest single component of this wealth – at about 40% of the £11.1 trillion total.

Agreeing a fair separation of pension wealth at a time of divorce is therefore important for both parties. Aviva estimates that a typical couple could have about £120,000 in combined private pension assets if they were to divorce in their 50s, assuming they married when aged 30[iv].

Commenting on today’s data, Alistair McQueen, Head of Savings & Retirement at Aviva said:

“It is typical for our wealth to grow as we age. A rising average age of divorce will therefore typically bring with it a larger pool of wealth to separate. With the average age of divorce at an all-time high, it is fair to assume levels of wealth at a time of divorce may also be at an all-time high.

“Those in their 50s today will typically have married in the late 1990s, when aged about 30. Sadly, about one-in-three of those marriages have since ended in divorce. Many in their fifties may have combined private pension assets worth more than £120,000. Agreeing a fair separation of this pension wealth will be a key step in finalising a divorce, and will be critical to the future financial well-being of both parties.

“With the average age of divorce higher than ever, agreeing a fair separation of pension assets is more important than ever.”


Media Enquiries:

Fiona Whytock, Senior Media Relations Manager, T: +44 (0)7800 692299 E: Fiona.whytock@aviva.com  

Notes to editors:

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[iv] £120,000 calculation: For someone aged 50 today (i.e. born in 1967) their average age of marriage was about 30. This suggests that, if divorcing at age 50, they may have been married for about twenty years. Average contribution rates to a defined contribution workplace pension are assumed to be 4% from the employee and 4% from the employer. For a basic rate taxpayer on an average salary of £28,000 who contributes the aforementioned averages, they could expect to amass about £60,000 in their pension pot after twenty years. (Source of average age of marriage - https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/marriagecohabitationandcivilpartnerships/datasets/marriagesinenglandandwales2013. Source of average private pension contribution rates -https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/personalandhouseholdfinances/pensionssavingsandinvestments/datasets/occupationalpensionschemessurvey

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