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19 November 2015

Divorce on the rise for over 60s

According to recent figures published by the Office of National Statistics, divorce amongst couples aged 60 and over in England and Wales has risen considerably.

Statistics show that the number of couples divorcing each year has been falling steadily since the mid-1990s, however the divorce rate amongst the over 60s has increased significantly in recent years compared to all other age groups.

Emma Alfieri, Associate in our Family Law Team, commented:

“In recent years there has been a real and noticeable upturn in the number of clients between the ages of 60 to 75 who are instructing us in relation to divorce.   It would appear from our clients that a catalyst for divorce in this age bracket is down to increasing life expectancy.  Clients are re-evaluating their lives on, or following retirement, and are focusing on what they want out of their retirement years”. 

Where the marriage has been long, the starting point in respect of dividing finances is equality.  Generally couples in this age bracket are the “baby boomers” who tend to have built up a good asset pot, made up of property and favourable pension pots.  With couples in this age group it is commonly the situation where husbands have built up generous pension provisions during their careers, whilst often wives did not have a career and pension.  Wives who do not have their own pension provision are entitled to receive a share of their husband’s pension.

Matters can become complex where pension policies are in payment and where an individual is receiving a monthly income from that pension. The question then arises as to how the pension pot should be valued and shared.
The recent pension flexibility changes which took effect on 6 April 2015, in some cases, allows a party at age 55, to draw down some of their private pension scheme.  This provides couples with further options, and needs to be considered if divorcing later in life.

As with all divorces, the advice to each client differs on the varying circumstances of each individual case.  Therefore seeking early legal advice is key – never assume anything!  For further information regarding divorce in later life, please contact our family law team.

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