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Why are so called 'silver divorces' on the increase?

Divorce for the over 50's is becoming more common, Large & Gibson look at the stats behind the Silver Divorce.

  • 45% said increasingly different interests caused irreparable rifts in their marriage.

  • 73% of ‘over-50’ divorcees report new-found feelings of relief, excitement and confidence

  • 64% feel they have moved on successfully

Brits who annul their marriage in later life report feeling ‘relieved’, ‘excited’ and ‘more confident’ following their split, new research has shown.

The study of 1,153 divorcees aged 45 and over reveals an upbeat attitude among those who went their separate ways, often delaying their parting until after their adult children had flown the nest.

The results are revealed following a previous ONS report which found divorce rates in the UK are dropping in every age group but the over 50s.

If there was a time when ‘divorce’ was viewed as being socially unacceptable then, it seems, those times are changing.  Contrary to their parents’ more traditional values, 94% of over 50s in the South East now agree that these days divorce isn’t the social taboo it might once have been.

Michael Vale, Family Law expert at QualitySolicitors, which commissioned the study, said, “So-called silver divorces have become a widely documented phenomenon – and the process can often be less volatile than in the younger age sectors.

“With ‘empty nest syndrome’ – a common reason for divorce in later years – often comes a mutual realisation that neither partner is happy.

“These days, embracing change in the search of personal happiness is more widely encouraged than ‘settling’, so people no longer feel obliged to stay together.

“They want to make the most out of life and not be held back in the pursuit of their life goals.”

So ‘seeking independence’ is undoubtedly a prime motivator for divorce – the poll found eight in ten had children to consider, who were typically 21 years of age when they flew the nest – and just under half (45%) suggested that a difference in life interests was what began an irretrievable breakdown of their relationship.

It’s a fascinating, if subtle, demographic change.  But if life is said to begin at 40, can freedom really begin at 50?

It might seem so; a substantial 73% of ‘over-50’ divorcees in the South East report new-found feelings of relief, excitement and confidence.  And furthermore 64% said that they’ve already successfully put their divorce well and truly behind them and class it as ‘in the past’.

So all is rosy, then?

Of course, divorce must be considered with care.  Despite them having flown the nest, how the children would cope was one of the biggest concerns for 38% of those living in the region - while the cost of the ordeal was the biggest shock for half of those polled. 

You’ll also need good legal advice to agree on the best financial arrangements.  New flexibility in pension rules will be a considerable advantage if you can plan correctly and, with increased life expectancy, a good pension fund (and how you manage it) is often a person’s most valuable family asset.

“Divorce is rarely a happy process,” says Peter Dymock, Head of family at Large & Gibson, “But when the reasons for a separation are mature and considered, it can turn out well for both parties when the dust finally settles.”

One thing’s for sure: these days it seems almost everyone agrees that age needn’t be a factor when it comes to personal happiness.


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