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Silver Separators

A photo of Nicola Starbuck
3rd November 2022

Why, after many years of marriage, perhaps raising children and working in partnership to build a life and home together, has it come to an end? At a time when most couples could be expected to be looking towards retirement, why are so many choosing to go their separate ways? What has given rise to the ‘silver separator’?

*In 2019, there were 107,599 divorces between opposite sex couples. Of those, 27,622 were aged 55 and above. This equates to just over a quarter of all opposite sex divorces that year. Such figures are not unusual. Between 2015 and 2018, opposite sex divorces amongst the over 55s accounted for between 28-32% each year.

The reasons for the rise of the ‘silver separator’ are far from clear and is unlikely to be the result of one but rather a combination of a number of things. Reasons could include: -

  • Children - some couples may have stayed together for the sake of the children and once their children are grown and fly the nest, the decision to separate is made.
  • Financial mobility – with greater assets, which have accrued over the years, it provides an opportunity for one or both parties to reconsider their marriage and achieve financial independence
  • Better health and greater life expectancy – with people living longer and enjoying longer retirements, the prospect of continuing in a marriage where one or both parties is unhappy becomes less attractive
  • Menopause – in a recent survey, 70% of women attributed menopause to the breakdown of their marriage
  • Second and third marriages - those who have married later in life, usually as a result of a second or third marriage. It is said that second and third marriages are more likely to fail than first marriages

Whatever the reason for the breakdown of these marriages, there are important considerations.

Shall we divorce or not? Divorce dissolves a marriage and may impact on pension death benefits. Once divorced, these are lost. In some circumstances, it may be better to formalise the separation by way of Separation Agreement.

When considering financial settlement, the age of the parties will be an important consideration.

Pensions will usually be very important in terms of providing an income for both parties in retirement. Difficulties may arise where assets are limited and the parties’ competing needs have to be met.

Can I stay in the family home after a Divorce or Separation? One party may wish to remain in the family home or the property may have to be sold. Mortgage capacity and affordability – both impacted by age - will be key factors in determining how any property should be dealt with.

For further advice and support, contact our team of Divorce Solicitors in Leamington Spa and Hinckley. Our Family Law team can provide provide no-obligation fixed fee initial consultations across Leicestershire and Warwickshire or online.

*Office for National Statistics

There is no data after 2019 as information as to the age of the divorcing parties is no longer collected