Danish couples urged to make pension sharing arrangement in case of divorce

Danish couples are being urged to make a marriage contract that includes the splitting of their pensions in the event of divorce.

Sampension has dubbed the current period as ‘divorce season’ as the number of divorces in Denmark in September this year was the at its highest level in five years, according to Statistics Denmark. However, it warned that getting divorced can be particularly costly for women in retirement.

Sampension marketing and customer advice manager, Anne-Louise Lindkvist, said: "When you get divorced, your fortune is divided. But that does not apply to retirement savings, which comes as a surprise to many. And it can cost women especially dearly because they generally have smaller pension savings than their husbands - i.e. because in marriage they are typically more on maternity leave and work part-time.”

However, she noted that women’s pension savings likely need to last for several years more than men, as they typically retire earlier and live longer. Calculations from Sampension show that if, for example, a woman has been on maternity leave twice and spent five years on reduced hours (30 hours per week), from the age of 30 to 36, the pension savings will be approx. DKK 188,000 less at the time of retirement than if they had been full-time for the entire period.”

Married couples can create a marriage contract where they agree that the pensions will be shared in the event of divorce. But figures from the Land Registry Court show that the number of registered marriage contracts in 2020 was 8,548 - the lowest level since 2014. In comparison, there were 28,538 marriages in 2020, and this year there have been 21,527 marriages up to and including September.

“We always recommend that as a newlywed you consider establishing a marriage pact regarding the sharing of pensions. Of course, this is not the first thing that comes to mind when you have just given each other a promise to stick together in good times and bad. But it is now even easier to get it done in good times, and women especially have reason to be aware of it,” Lindkvist noted.

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