The number of post-retirement divorces (or ‘silver splitters’ if you will) is rising in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics. Between 2005 and 2015 the amount of men and women aged 65 and over getting divorced increased by 23 and 38 per cent respectively.
It has been suggested that the reasons for this increase are mainly to do with changing societal views around divorce, the greater financial security of the ‘boomer’ generation, and retirement or empty nest syndrome acting as a catalyst for a major life change.
Divorcing later in life has its pros and cons. On the one hand, there’s likely to be a greater amount of assets to divide between the couple and less chance of having dependents to consider, but on the other hand, financial issues can often be more complicated when dealing with a larger estate, pensions, maintenance and associated tax issues. There may be a beloved family home to consider, or one spouse may require support from the other’s pension to provide for retirement if they spent the majority of the marriage as a homemaker. As in all cases, the needs and specifics of separation are highly personal and will need to be considered carefully with the support of an experienced solicitor.
When divorcing as a ‘silver splitter’, it’s important to have realistic expectations of what single status might mean for retirement as the investments, pensions and retirement plans set out to cover one household and your current lifestyle may look quite different when divided into two households.
A good place to start is to make a list of your combined assets along with a budget of your current incomings and outgoings, and then consider the following questions:
- Do you have enough in your individual and combined pension pots for separate retirements?
- Do you have any liabilities such as debts and loans?
- Do you have any savings for emergencies, contingencies or additional lifestyle costs?
- Do you have future-proofing and end-of-life planning in place, such as Lasting Powers of Attorney and an up-to-date will?
- Do you know the tax implications of any joint investments, property sales or other finances?
For most divorcing couples aged 65 or above, pensions and property will be the largest assets in the pot, and it’s vital that both these issues are treated carefully to ensure that both parties are left financially secure. Pensions are often ignored in favour of more tangible assets but they can be vital – particularly for divorcees of retirement age who will be relying more heavily on them for living costs.
There are several different ways to deal with pensions when it comes to separation (we’ve outlined them here) but it’s worth noting that the law is generally moving away from lifetime maintenance and leaning more towards clean financial breaks wherever possible. This, however, can be tricky for older couples who may not have balanced work histories. The average divorced UK woman has less than 1/3 of the pension wealth of a divorced man due to women generally experiencing more major ‘life events’ that disrupt their pension contributions, eg: becoming a parent, working part time, changing careers or taking a break from work, leaves gaps in insurance contributions and results in a lower post-retirement income – hence the importance of prioritising pension assets in divorce.
In all cases, taking an individual, tailored approach with support from an experienced solicitor is the best way to find the solution that’s right for you. A good solicitor should help you to consider all the options and help you to plan for the future post-retirement and post-divorce. To speak to a friendly, down-to-earth family lawyer and book a free 45-minute initial family law consultation please get in touch at www.franceslindsay.co.uk or by calling 01628 634667 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.