The term “silver separators” has been coined to describe separating couples over the age of 60 and according to the latest divorce rate figures released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) the number of silver separators is on the increase.
The ONS statistics reveal that in 2009 11,500 over-60s were granted a divorce – up 4 per cent in two years. This contrasts with a fall in the divorce rate for all age groups of more than 11 per cent.
Why the increase in over 60s divorce?
For many couples, moving into their 60s means significant change to their lives. Retirement removes the daily routine of work and might uncover the sad truth that a couple just don’t actually enjoy spending time together anymore. Perhaps those that have stayed together for the children’s sake find that when the children have grown up and moved out there is no reason to stay together.
Whilst historically the social stigma of divorce would have kept couples together regardless that barrier is now much less of an issue.
What are the issues in over 60s divorce?
Divorce for the over 60’s is often quite a different proposition. Aside from the emotional trauma, which after 30 or 40 years of marriage can be considerable, there are also different legal considerations.
In many cases, there will be older children, both partners will have retired and the mortgage will be paid off.
The issues are less about childcare, access and maintenance and more concerned with pension rights and inheritance planning. If one or both partners ends up re-marrying or cohabiting there is a need to protect assets and liabilities both for their dependent children and their new partners.
It is important that divorcing couples over the age of 60 seek appropriate family legal help to ensure that these issues are addressed and managed and that both partners can move on with their lives independently.
An alternative approach to a traditional divorce is to go down the collaborative route. This is when the couples and their lawyers work together in a series of four-way meetings, to find a fair solution. This method is generally more amicable, quicker and less costly. Couples who have shared the largest chunk of their lives together often prefer to formalise the end of their relationship in this way.
At Hartnell Chanot & Partners we have five collaborative lawyers and are experienced in dealing with the complex pensions and inheritance issues which arise in divorce for the over 60s. Please contact us on 01392 421777 or 01752 674999 if you would like to arrange a free initial 30 minute appointment with one of our lawyers.