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Silver Splitters Separation Stats Soaring

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Recent divorce statistics provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows rates for divorcing couples in aged 60 and above have significantly increased since the 1990s. In fact, according to the ONS, for people aged 60 and over, ‘marriages are now more likely to end in divorce and less likely to end in the death of one spouse than they were in 1991’.

Research from the US has put forward a number of reasons why so called ‘silver splitters’ are divorcing in ever increasing numbers. These include the fact that people are generally living longer, there is no longer the same stigma to divorce and that women are now more financially independent. 

Whatever the reasons for this increase, divorcing later in life has some particular issues that will not be felt by those divorcing at a younger age. 

For example, someone in their 30s getting divorced will likely have another thirty years or so in which to work, provide for themselves and hopefully build up pension provision. The same is of course not true for older people who will either have retired or be looking to retire in the near future. Men are disproportionately more likely to have better pensions than women of the same age. For older women, who may have not worked until later in life due to child care commitments and even then perhaps only worked part-time, their pension provision compared to their husband’s is likely to be even more stark. Therefore women may feel vulnerable on divorce as their earing capacity is minimal at best and they may be wondering how they will make ends meet on a State pension.

Determining how assets should be divided can be complex, particularly when it comes to pensions. Simply adding up the value of both spouses’ pensions and dividing by two may have the aim of equality, but could lead to disadvantage for one party depending on the type of pensions involved and the ages of the parties.

Nick Robertshaw is a specialist family law solicitor based in our Stamford office and can be contacted on 01780 750678 or via email nick.robertshaw@chattertons.com

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