Too late to start over? (Luxe Magazine)
The divorce rate in the UK is steadily decreasing with one noticeable exception – the over 60s age group. Divorce statistics produced by the Office for National Statistics show the number of people divorcing who are aged 60 years and older has risen significantly since the 1990’s and, indeed, by as much as 73%. The Baby Boomers are now Silver Separators!
There are a number of suggested theories for this increase: so-called “empty nest syndrome” is stated to be one of the most significant reasons why couples, who have been together for many years, find themselves parting company. With their children having grown up and left the coop, the parents find themselves with time on their hands – particularly if retirement has commenced or is looming – together with a realisation that not only do they have less in common than they previously 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 available to them.
Despite the average length of marriage of the divorcing over-60s being just over 27 years, it would seem that this no longer a bar to starting over. It has been suggested that the lessening stigma of divorce contributes to this rising trend, as does the increased financial independence of women.
Ros Altmann, Director General of the over-50s group Saga, believes that ‘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 is a fact that, as a population, we are living longer and the overall number of people aged 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.
Whilst this trend may sit uncomfortably with many of us, it is nevertheless a reality which needs sensitive and expert handling: for some, it can leave at least one of the parties to the marriage feeling vulnerable, lonely and seemingly ill-equipped for single life at a mature stage in life. It should be no surprise that dividing possessions and starting again can be deeply traumatic after so many years as part of a couple. Pensions are generally recognised as being a complex asset; they will be of huge importance at this time given that they are likely to have been built up over a number of years and have substantial value and both parties will have great reliance upon them at this later time of their lives.
As with everything, a situation which is not going to go away is best faced with an armoury of information and options. Knowing how to source support on a legal and financial level, and more importantly, on an emotional level is key to moving on. Advice on pension entitlement and the effect divorce will have is of course of primary importance for people of this age group.
Equally, this does not spell the end of the road for everyone who finds themselves divorcing later in life and for those who go on to new relationships and perhaps marriages, planning for provision for both new and existing families is essential and in turn requires advice about having a prenuptial agreement and proper will-planning. This is not as materialistic as it may seem when adult children and grandchildren are involved in the extended family. Divorce changes wills and inheritance issues can be a serious consideration.
We recognise that at Major Family Law and have a number of services specifically designed to support you and ensure that you are able to start a new chapter this New Year with confidence.