SEOUL, March 16 (Korea Bizwire) — On the rise are “twilight divorces”, a term referring to the ending of marriages by couples in their golden years, and with their increased frequency is a growing number of individuals living off income from their ex-spouse’s pension through pension splitting.
Pension splitting was introduced in 1999 for divorcees who have no pension of their own – long-term housewives being leading examples — but had nonetheless contributed to their former partner’s earnings through indirect means such as childrearing and taking care of the home.
To qualify as a recipient, an individual must be legally divorced and is required to have been married for at least five years to a person who is registered as a pensioner.
According to the National Pension Service on March 15, the number of split pension recipients is on a consistent upward trajectory. Starting with 4,632 in 2010, this particular group passed the 10,000 mark in 2014 and surged past the 20,000 line in 2017 (25,302).
The vast majority of recipients were women (88.6 percent, 22,407). By age demographic, the 60s group had the highest number of recipients with 20,888.
Twilight divorces are on the upswing. In a 2017 population study by Statistics Korea, total divorces dropped by 1.1 percent, but separations of the “twilight” variety increased.
Relationships of 20 years or more were the most common type ending in twilight divorce (34,600). Other types of relationships were four years or less (23,100), five to nine years (20,000), 10 to 14 years (14,700) and 15 to 19 (13,600).
Twilight divorces dropped for each type of relationship except 20-year minimums, which grew by 2,000 cases.
The rules governing pension splitting have changed in recent years. Up until 2016, pension income was split 50-50, but from 2017 onwards the parties involved have the ability to adjust the terms via mutual agreement or in court.
The change to the 50-50 rule was implemented after complaints were made that an even divide of the income was unfair in situations where one party held greater blame for the marriage falling apart.
Legal revisions passed in 2016 will allow for “early pension split applications”. Pre-pension age individuals who have been married for five years minimum may file a request for pension splitting within three years from the date the marriage was dissolved.
Divorcees granted pension split income will be eligible to receive their share even after remarrying or even when their pension-holding ex-spouse passes away.
Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)