Joanne Major, Principal and owner of Major Family Law, Newcastle’s top divorce and children’s specialists, comments in this month’s Luxe Magazine as follows:

Joanne Major - Major Family Law

Who are Silver Splitters?

Silver Splitters is a term coined for people in the over 60s age group who are choosing to separate and divorce, often after long marriages.

Why are People Talking About Them?

Recent reports and statistics show that the divorce rate is steadily decreasing, except within one significant sector: the over 60s age group. Divorce statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics show the number of people aged 60 years and over divorcing has risen significantly since the 1990’s, by as much as 73%.

Why are More People in this Age Group Divorcing?

A number of theories for this increase have been offered, with so-called empty nest syndrome being cited as one of the most significant reasons couples who have been together for many years decide to part company. With the children having grown up and moved out and with time on their hands together following retirement, mature couples are finding that not only do they have less in common than they thought, but that they are not prepared to simply tolerate each other once their family has moved on. With many people remaining active for longer, some are seeking to make the most of a time in their life without familial ties and with a level of financial certainty.

It has also been suggested that the lessening stigma of divorce contributes to the rising trend, as does the increased financial independence of women.

Shouldn’t People be Thinking of Settling Down at that Age Rather Than Starting a New Life?

Ros Altmann, Director General of the over-50s group Saga, believes ‘for many it’s the start of the next phase of their lives, not the end of their life as people in the past were often led to expect’.

It’s a fact that we’re living longer and the overall number of people over 60 is increasing.  Increased life expectancy would tend to show that marriages are now more likely to end in divorce and less likely to end by the death of a spouse than a quarter of a century ago.

What Difference Does It Make at What Age You Decide to Divorce?

For some people in this age group, separation and divorce can lead to individuals feeling vulnerable and lonely and seemingly ill-equipped for single life at a mature stage in life.

With adult children, the split can cause acrimony amongst the wider family, with children voicing opinions, plus dividing possessions and starting again can be deeply traumatic after so many years as part of a couple.

Advice on pension entitlement and the effect divorce will have is of course of primary importance for people of this age group.

What Else Should You Think About?

Divorce at this stage of life doesn’t mean the end of the road for everyone who finds themselves newly single. For those who go on to new relationships and perhaps marriages, planning for provision for both new and existing families is a key consideration. This means giving real attention to the decision to make a prenuptial agreement. This is not as materialistic as it may seem when adult children and grandchildren are involved in the extended family of one or both parties to a second marriage later in life.  Divorce changes wills and inheritance issues can be a serious consideration.

At Major Family Law, we recognise the sensitive and specific nature of divorcing in later life, and we have a number of services specifically designed to support you and ensure that you are able to start a new chapter with confidence.

Image by Roberto.Jorge via Flickr (Creative Commons)