real life

In love? You need to start planning for your divorce.

It’s no secret that divorce has an immediate affect on the family finances. But did you know it takes an average of five years to recover? And it’s women with children who suffer most financially after a divorce?

They’re the key findings of a study released by AMP and the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling about the implications of divorce on Australians’ finances.

The research found that beyond delivering a hefty hit to the savings, that five-year fallout also impacts families long term, by compromising their ability to re-enter the housing market, to bank enough superannuation and to meet their children’s education fees.

AMP Chief Customer Officer Paul Sainsbury said with one in three marriages ending, it’s a financial stress many Australians experience, but most aren’t prepared for.

“Understandably, most couples don’t plan for divorce,” he said. “This lack of planning, combined with the significant disruption and emotional distress of a divorce, often means finances are a lower priority and mishandled during a separation.”

Of the 97,000 Australians getting divorced each year, it’s women with children who are feeling the biggest blow-back.

NATSEM found that more than 20 per cent of newly-divorced mothers are struggling to afford basic items such as school uniforms and leisure activities, while their superannuation balances are 37 per cent lower than their male counterparts.

And that figure isn’t just about gender – on average, divorced mums have 68 per cent less super than married ones.

While it might not seem romantic or particularly optimistic, Sainsbury believes it’s important for people to be prepared: to think ahead, be practical and create a solid foundation that can withstand the shock of divorce.

That might mean having an independent bank account, or tucking away emergency savings of three to six month’s worth of your annual salary.

“A marriage breakdown is devastating for your finances in the near term and its impact can continue into old age and have serious consequences for financial living standards and retirement prospects later in life,” he said.

“Being financially independent and actively engaged with your finances and planning ahead for financial challenges such as divorce can go a long way towards reducing its harmful effects.”

Divorced and living in a tent. A mother of five tells her story.