Perhaps surprisingly, divorce rates are falling. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 101,055 divorces in the UK in 2015, representing a 9% reduction on the previous year.
However, the average age at which people are getting divorced is at an all-time high. The average age for men is now over 45 and the average age for women is just under 44.
One of the consequences is that the financial aspects of divorce are getting more complicated. The longer couples live, the greater the value of the financial and other assets which they accumulate.
It is consequently important that solicitors advising on divorce should work closely with appropriately qualified and experienced financial advisers; and Resolution, previously known as the Solicitors Family Law Association, has created a special accreditation scheme for financial advisers.
Pensions are a vital part of the financial mix, and Courts will often either order that the value of a pension should be split between the parties or that it should be taken into account as part of an overall assessment of wealth, including the house, so that estates can be divided in the most equitable way.
The cash available from providers of occupational pension schemes to members who transfer to personal pensions is at an all-time high and could provide an important opportunity in a current divorce. But there are complex issues at stake in assessing the respective benefits, and expert advice is required. Many financial advisers specialising in divorce work have obtained a specialist qualification in pension transfers.