Divorce and mediation: the rise of divorce in older people and the role of legal mediation
An increase in the number of people aged 60 and over living in England and Wales, an increase in life expectancy by 26 years, plus an increase in participation by women in the labour market. Put them together and what do you get? An increase in divorce amongst the population aged 60 and over in England and Wales.
The 2011 statistics, recently released by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) have shown that following a sharp rise in divorce between the early 1970s and 1990s, divorce rates dropped significantly by nearly 50,000 a year. For the older generation however, statistics show that divorce rates have continued to rise, and one of the reasons being quoted is that divorce has become more acceptable in today’s society. Though, it should be noted that people divorce for a number of weird and wonderful reasons.
You may or may not know, the UK is what is referred to as an “ageing population”, where the proportion of people over the age of 60 is much higher than previously, in part due to an increased life expectancy. In fact, certain statistics indicate that by 2021, 19% of the population will be pensioners. So it’s no surprise that the statistics show that there is a rise in divorce amongst the older generation.
Next steps - understand dissolution and what’s involved
Divorce falls under family law and is often complex and overwhelming as it affects more than just your relationships, but also your finances, assets and any children of the family. With that being said, it’s worth having a trust in place to protect your assets from divorce proceedings and to ensure your children (particularly if they are from another relationship) are looked after. As they say, “prevention is better than cure”.
At the time of taking your vows, “for better or worse...till death do us part”, you often don’t think about the worse until you want a divorce. In most cases you forget altogether about death but it’s vital that you don’t forget to change your will (that’s if you have one) to ensure the prized possessions you retained on divorce will go to the person(s) you wish.
As if divorce wasn’t hard enough on the heart, because legal aid is no longer available as a result of divorce being a private family matter, it can be hard on the pockets also. What’s more ironic is that you could find that you may end up squandering the very assets you are disputing over in lengthy litigation, particularly if you have been married for a long time or have assets of sentimental value. Fortunately there are alternative methods to dispute resolution than litigation, which are cheaper, quicker and more flexible.
Alternative dispute resolution – what you need to know
Alternative dispute resolution, such as negotiation and mediation enables you to deal with the emotional fallout of separation as well as your legal issues. In addition it seeks to preserve a good relationship between you and your partner and agree a final settlement appropriate for the circumstances of those involved.
The difference between negotiation and mediation is that although mediation must be face-to-face, it’s voluntary, confidential and flexible. More importantly, you don’t have to negotiate on your own as you will have a qualified mediator whose role is not to judge or decide who gets what asset, but to help manage the exchange of information, ideas and feelings to achieve a suitable settlement.
If you find yourself needing a mediator, you ought to consider a team that deals with such situations with some regularity. It is an emotional enough experience to go through, without the added burden of dealing with an impersonal mediator handling the process for you.
If you are looking for an expert to mediate your divorce, we have a number of local QualitySolicitors with experience in mediation and can help make the process as quick and simple as possible. Not only will we answer your queries but will provide you with a continuous update and you don’t have to worry about hidden costs.