Divorce down the line
The kids have grown up and moved out so the house might seem a little big and empty but the resulting improvement in disposable income and quality of life more than compensates for many couples.
Not everyone though. For some, the kids might have been the glue that kept them together. Or the job that goes when one or the other retires might leave a void. Or the (very) belated realisation that they have nothing in common and their life no longer stretches ahead of them to a seemingly infinite horizon.
We often think of divorce and separation as being a younger person’s game and bemoan the folly of youth, bowling through marriage after marriage. Well, some older people do. Not me, obviously.
But the reality is that divorce among the over-50s is on the increase. According to the most recent figures I have seen, it has rised by 8.7 per cent in the 50-59 age group and 8.9 per cent in the 60+ age group.
And going through a divorce later in life can bring baggage and complications that younger couples need worry little about, having invested less in their relationship. I haven't divorced but if I had in, say, my 20s BC (that means "Before Children") the divorce would have been simple. Now with complex business, retirement and housing arrangements it would be very complex.
Of course, there are less likely to be contact issues with children if they have already flown the nest (though don’t underestimate the upset and upheaval it will still cause for them). The day-to-day practicalities of the children will be easier to manage though.
But things like pensions, for example, can be a minefield. By the time a couple are in their mid 50s, it can be the largest matrimonial asset, way more than the equity in the house or the contents of the savings account.
The house might be mortgage free (or have a significant amount paid off) but splitting it in two might not give either party enough to start again.
And for an older couple, the earning potential difference between the husband and wife might be greater than when they were younger, so starting again is not an easy task.
The best advice? Make sure you speak to an experienced family law specialist before making life-changing decisions so they can help you consider all the options. That is, of course, if getting a dog just doesn’t work for you!