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You’ve Made it to Retirement, Now is it Time for a Divorce?

August 21, 2013  |   Posted by :   |   Blog

According to the Office for National Statistics the divorce rate for the over 60s has risen by three quarters over the last 20 years – an increase attributed to extended life expectancies, financial independence, and a more relaxed attitude towards divorce from the baby boomer generation. The figures also showed that men of retirement age are just as likely as women to file for divorce – a balance that is not seen in other age groups where men are instigators of divorce in just 30% of cases.

The number of ‘silver splitters’ (argh, not our buzzword!) has jumped up from around 8,500 per year in the early 90s to over 15,000 in 2011. The ONS suggested that there are several lifestyle elements specific to this generation that could be the root of this rise in divorce, especially amongst men. In many cases, couples stay in unhappy marriages until they feel they have fulfilled their duty as parents and their children are adults before seeking separation. This may also coincide with a “delayed midlife crisis” for men of this age, who decide to look for a new relationship once they are able to retire. Greater numbers of people of retirement age are also choosing to travel the world, taking late life “gap years”, often as individuals or with friends rather than their partner – in some cases this wanderlust can be the catalyst for separation. Or perhaps it’s simply a case of reaching retirement and reassessing the “til death do us part” aspect of marriage vows…

over 60s divorce

The general rate of men seeking divorce dropped by 3% between 1991 and 2001 but for men over 60 the opposite was true and frequency of divorces instigated by men increased. Life expectancies extended by around 5 years for both men and women during the same time period, and, according to the Office for National Statistics: “marriages are now more likely to end in divorce and less likely to end in the death of one spouse than they were in 1991.” It’s particularly interesting that in couples who have been together for over 30 years, men are just as likely to seek a divorce as women, while the gender divide is much more skewed towards women in other groups.

Reaching the age of 60 certainly seems to provide a trigger for individuals and couples to reassess their situation, especially with a longer retirement period to look forward to. Without the distractions and responsibilities of children and work, it’s understandable that couples find they have fallen out of love or no longer have enough in common to justify spending a further 30 years together. Another prominent factor that applies to the baby boomer generation is the high rate of financial security among professionals who have benefited from housing booms and the accumulation of pension funds. This “phenomenon” may indeed prove to be a boomer-specific situation.

According to a survey conducted by Relate, personal relationships are “an important factor to a happy later life”, and with divorce and separation options becoming simpler, especially for financial resolution, the decision to make a break may be getting easier for a generation that was previously reluctant to face the upheaval of divorce. From the perspective of a divorce solicitor, divorces amongst the over 60s can indeed be straightforward and amicable, with couples simply deciding that it’s time to move on rather than engaging in complex and litigious cases. Consulting a family law solicitor or seeking mediation can be a good first step to work out the logistics of separating with regard to property, finances and any dependent children. Your divorce solicitor will help you to resolve any disputes arising from your divorce negotiations and separate as smoothly and quickly as possible so that you can move on to enjoy your retirement…

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