Why are more older couples are getting divorced?
Why are more older couples getting divorced?
It’s a trend known as ‘silver separation’ and the latest official figures show a big rise in divorces later in life.
The Office for National Statistics have released some new research which shows divorces between couples over the age of 65 have risen by as much as 40% in some cases.
According to the ONS, the number of 65 year old and over women getting divorced has risen by 38%.
For men in this age group, the divorce rate is up by 23%.
To put this divorce rate rise among older people in context, the overall divorce rate in England and Wales has fallen during the past decade.
For the period 2005 to 2015, there’s been a 28% fall in divorces.
According to the ONS, better life expectancy could be one factor to explain the rising divorce rate in later life.
“The increase in older people ending and forming new relationships is likely to be because they are living longer.
“In 2004, an average 65-year-old man could expect to live for a further 17 years and a woman for a further 20 years. Continuing a long-term trend, in 2017, this has increased to 19 years for a man and almost 22 years for a woman. The gap between male and female life expectancy is also narrowing.”
In our experience, when couples enter retirement, they often have twenty, thirty or forty years ahead to contemplate. Previous generations didn’t enjoy the same life expectancy in retirement and were perhaps more prepared to settle for imperfect relationships, in the knowledge time was short and opportunities to find new partners scarce.
Retirement today is a very different experience, with the opportunity to reinvent your entire life and embrace a new relationship with the same level of energy and enthusiasm as younger couples.
It’s worth noting there’s a comparable increase in the marriage rate for the over 65s too, so it’s not all one-way traffic in terms of divorce figures.
Between 2005 and 2015, the ONS reported a 46% increase in marriages between couples aged 65 and over.
They found that men tend to marry younger women. More than half of men over 65 married a woman under 65, with just 22% of older women marrying a younger ‘toy boy’.
And these marriages tend to be second, third or subsequent marriages too. Looking at the data for 2014, almost 92% of people getting married were divorcees, widows or widowers.
This rise in silver separation has some interesting personal finance consequences.
When we separate or get divorced later in life, we tend to have accumulated much more wealth than when younger couples split.
Agreeing an amicable financial settlement when you’ve got significant pension, property and investment assets to divide can create challenges of its own.
On the positive side, any children from the marriage are more likely to be grown up and financially independent when divorces take place after age 65.
At whatever stage in life a divorce takes place, it’s essential to consider all of the options carefully and seek professional advice.
A family lawyer, preferably a member of Resolution, is a must.
You should also engage with a Financial Planner at a very early stage in the process, certainly before any financial settlement has been drafted. Too often we are asked by divorcing clients to step in and implement pension sharing orders far too late in the process, where our earlier intervention would have resulted in much better financial outcomes.
Counselling to address the emotional toll of divorce is important too; at whatever age you get divorced, it can have a big impact on your state of mind, your mental and physical health.
Getting the right support from the right professionals can ease what is usually a difficult process.