The most recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics show that overall, divorce rates are falling across the country. With a decrease of 2.9% between 2012 and 2013, this is a fairly rapid rate. However, there is one age category where divorces are actually increasing. The statistics state that “compared with 2003, divorce rates in England and Wales are higher in 2013 for men and women aged 50 and over.”
Why are older couples divorcing more regularly?
As there is less pressure to marry early in today’s society, the divorce rate for younger generations is declining. Many couples now co-habit for several years before deciding on marriage, which allows them to better test the potential longevity of their relationships. As a result, some of the couples that would have divorced are now never marrying in the first place.
At the same time, stigma towards divorce has decreased in recent decades. In the past, older generations may have been fearful to seek divorce regardless of their own happiness, due to personal beliefs or a fear of social repercussions.
The continuing rise in ‘Silver Separators’ has also been attributed to the rise in life expectancy. Unhappy couples may stay together to keep their family homes stable; once their children move out, they can still be looking at another two or three decades of marriage unless they separate.
There can also be added causes of stress in this life stage that younger couples may not face. For example: elderly parents and in-laws requiring care, worries about retirement or the onset of personal health issues. These can all be contributing factors to the breakdown of a marriage.
Financial Factors to Consider
There are also some financial considerations that may contribute towards a couple waiting to seek divorce:
The Pension Sharing Order (PSO) now means that funds from one spouse’s pension pot can be transferred to the other’s. Previously, a spouse who may not have worked, usually the wife, would have had to wait until the pension was in payment before anything could be done to it. This law makes dividing assets easier in divorce.
Pension Freedom Rules
In addition to the above, the pension freedom rules announced in March 2014 allow over-55s to access their pensions without purchasing an annuity. Therefore, assets that were previously unavailable can now be accessed.
In longer marriages, which are more common for middle-aged couples, the assumption is that assets will be split equally, rather than an order being made on the basis of reasonable needs. Where there is a significant asset pot, the lower-earning individual in the couple can still expect to share equally in that pot, rather than receiving only what the court considers his/her ‘reasonable needs.’
Whatever your age or circumstance, there are always complex issues involved. As a specialist family lawyers, we take a sensitive and ethical approach to your individual situation. If you have any questions about divorce, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute specific advice. You should not rely on the information in this article. Fiona Bruce Solicitors recommends that you seek our specific advice if you wish to rely on the any part of this article. Whilst Fiona Bruce Solicitors makes every effort to ensure that the article is accurate, Fiona Bruce Solicitors excludes all liability for claim, loss, demands or damages of any kind whatsoever (whether such claims, loss, demands or damages were foreseeable, known or otherwise) arising out of or in connection with the use of this article or any other information contained on this website. Any information provided only applies to England and Wales.