The divorce rate amongst older couples, the so called Silver splitters, is growing year by year. Divorce overall is in decline but older people are bucking the trend. In the same period, the number of men divorcing aged 65 and over went up by 23% and the number of women of the same age divorcing increased by 38%.
(Source: ONS Statistics July 2017)
We can look at several reasons why this might be the case. Firstly, people are living longer and are expected to be in good health well into their later years. The whole ‘in sickness and in health, til death do us part’ promise can suddenly seem like a lengthy commitment. Financial security is also an issue. Now that new rules allow people to cash in their pension pots on retirement, and with many baby boomers sitting on substantial equity in their homes, many couples no longer feel forced to stay together because it’s too complicated to separate. And also there are cultural factors. Divorce is not the dirty word it once was, certainly compared to the 1960s and 1970s, when baby boomers were likely to be getting married. Women have gained more independence and autonomy and couples are perhaps more likely to have grown apart, with diverse interests and friendship circles. This is not to mention the brand new world of the internet, which offers a variety of opportunities for the newly single!
However it’s not all plain sailing, there are a variety of factors which must be considered, and which could cause complications. People may think that separating when you have young children presents more problems, but there are many issues to consider once you have been married for a longer period of time.
Think of the children
Although the children may have reached adulthood, they still need to be taken into account. They are also likely to be far more informed than younger children about the reasons for the split. You may not need to discuss contact arrangements but it is still important to be amicable and to shield them from disagreements. Added to that, they are likely to consider the implications for their inheritance, particularly if other parties involved. The court will not take adult children into account but you most certainly should.
Dividing the Assets
With any divorce, regardless of age, certain factors are taken into consideration. These include the income and earning capacity of each party, as well as the standard of living they have enjoyed up until that point.
The starting point will be that assets are divided 50:50. Over the course of a 20-year marriage, these assets can be substantial, especially once pension pots are added in. A clean break is often difficult to achieve. If one party hasn’t worked for many years, then it’s likely that a lifetime maintenance order will be agreed. Although this is declining as an overall trend in divorce, the court recognises the substantial obstacles to someone suddenly finding a means of financial independence as they head towards retirement.
Til death do us part
It’s vital that you review your will if you are separating. This is important in any divorce but considerably more prescient for older couples.
A new chapter
It may seem sad to see a marriage end after such a long time, but we see many couples embracing the opportunity. They are no longer duty bound by stigma or finance, and looking forward to beginning a brand-new chapter of their lives.
If you’d like to talk through your options, get in touch with us for a completely no obligation consultation.