New figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have highlighted a surge in the number of “silver” divorces.
An ONS report published on 6 August said that while the number of divorces in England and Wales has been falling steadily each year since the mid-1990s, the number of divorces among people aged 60 and over has bucked the trend.
It says that the number of divorces involving men aged 60 rose during the 1970s before stabilising during the 1980s and 1990s at between 5,000 and 6,000 divorces a year.
However, by 2011, nearly 9,500 men aged 60 and over divorced, a 73 per cent increase on the 1991 figure, with similar trends for women aged 60 and over. A total of 5,800 women in this age group divorced in 2011 compared with 3,200 in 1991.
The research also revealed that in 2011, men aged 60 and over getting divorced had been married for an average of 27.4 years. Women in the same age group divorcing had been married for an average of 31.9 years.
The ONS said that possible reasons for the increasing in divorces involved older people included increasing life expectancy, with marriages less likely to end in the death of one spouse than they were in 1991. It also said that with 1.3 million divorced people over 60 in England and Wales in 2011 – three times as many as in 1991 – the stigma associated with divorce had reduced.
It suggested as a further factor the growth in the number of working women. As a result, more women were financially independent, including through building up their own pensions, which meant they were better able to support themselves after divorce than in the past.
At Palmers, we understand that no couple takes the decision to end a marriage lightly, particularly when it has lasted for several decades.
Divorce at any age can be a stressful experience, further complicated by the fact that older couples in these situations may have accumulated more substantial assets – a family home, for example, or a valuable pension – that must be taken into account when making financial arrangements on divorce.
Expert legal advice can be crucial in resolving financial and other issues and the non-confrontational approach followed by Resolution members, such as the family law team at Palmers, can be very helpful in settling matters in a constructive, non-court-based way.
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