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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Mean age for divorce rising


Recent figures have confirmed the mean age for divorce continues to rise. We have spoken in the past (Divorce and the over 50s) about the rising rate for those over 50, but it seems that the trend is now being observed in those over the age of 60. So “silver separations”, as they have been dubbed, are on the up – as is the number of divorces generally.

The Office of National Statistics says the number of divorces in England and Wales rose by 4.9 per cent in 2010 to 119,589 compared with 113,949 in 2009. This is the first annual increase in divorces since 2003. The divorce rate rose by 5.7% in 2010 to one in every 11.1 divorcing people per thousand of married population. The average age at divorce has risen for both men and women.

The Telegraph recently commented on rising divorce among the 60s. I thought this was worth commenting on, even though I believe the 2010 figures suggest the divorce rate in this group has stabilised.

This means that an older generation of children are seeing their parents split up, causing distress for all and often leading to wider family breakdown as children pick sides more than they might do at a younger age.

Why are more older people getting divorced? Experts suggest it is because older couples are drifting apart once the children have flown the nest – probably the same reason more over-50s were getting divorced but just for those who started their family that bit later. Whereas in previous generations, couples may have felt more of a duty to stay together or it was less socially acceptable to split up, it is now almost the norm so individuals are reassessing their lives and what they want at an older age when they have more free time. We are living longer so there is still likely to be plenty of time ahead of them.

Of course, this is not a good trend. It likely means there are many older people spending significant periods of time in later life alone. And getting divorced after spending more years together means there is probably a larger pot of assets to reach agreement on, particularly if pensions are involved. Their value will be much higher than younger couples, properties could be larger and so worth more, or at least have greater equity in them. All the more reason to get specialist advice from an experienced family lawyer who will be the best person to advise on the right course of action to achieve a fair and hopefully amicable settlement between the parties.

So the baby boomers and those who tried to change the world in the 1960s are again causing a cultural revolution. A little strong maybe but it does at least prove the old saying that “there’s life in the old dog yet”.

Andrew Woolley
Family solicitor

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