Column: Rise in silver divorces is a trend that looks likely to grow

When you picture a divorcing couple what do you think of? Probably an image of a couple in their 40s fighting a custody battle for their school-age children, writes Jonathan Corbishley, legal expert at Derbyshire Family Law.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 5:00 pm

I think it fair to say you are unlikely to think of people old enough to be the grandparents in such a scenario.

However, the propensity for couples to part ways in the autumn of their years is a growing trend we are seeing here in the 21st century.

In the decade between 2005 and 2015, the number of men divorcing past the pension age of 65 rose by 23 per cent, with an even larger increase of 38 per cent for women.

Columnist Jonathan Corbishley, legal expert at Derbyshire Family Law
Columnist Jonathan Corbishley, legal expert at Derbyshire Family Law

Data from the Office of National statistics also showed that more people in that age group were more likely to take the plunge into another marriage than ever before, with remarriage of over 65s rising 46 percent between 2007 and 2017.

In many ways, it’s not so surprising: many people are living longer than ever before and in good health, with those in unhappy marriages deciding to recreate a new life long after the children have grown up.

However, divorces in later life can be very complex, with questions over pension pots and often the much-loved family home, full of memories, having to be sold as life begins anew.

There can be issues over tax planning and even with one party paying maintenance to another.

Additionally, there could be issues surrounding failing health, like loss of mental capacity where you have to decide who would step in to make decisions on your behalf if you were, for instance, to get a form of dementia.

To add to this, it is vital to get a holding Will while you are going through the divorce process. After all, if you were to die without a Will, the intestacy rules will kick in, which would mean that your spouse would automatically inherit the first £250,000 of the estate as well as your personal property and belongings.

If there are no children, grandchildren or great grandchildren, your spouse will inherit the entire estate and the fact that you may be separated will count for nothing.

On the plus side, a lifetime’s assets should make splitting more comfortable, but as the above shows it is far from a walk in the park.

Perhaps the bureaucracy can put off some in unhappy home lives, but with the later years of life often far from the picture of what they were a generation ago, the rise in silver divorces is a trend very likely to continue to grow here in the UK.

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