The trend of the millennials to live together has reduced the marriage rate however there has been a rising rate of divorces amongst the over 60s. There are several reasons for this growing trend.
For some over 60s they are divorcing after a very long marriage. Some having married in the 1970s at a time when cohabiting was not as socially acceptable are now taking the leap to move on from their marriage knowing that with the increase in life expectancy, there is still a lot of life to live. As people change so do relationships and a partnership that may have worked well during their mid-life now is faced with different expectations and goals for the future. The stigma of divorce that many people in this generation may have faced is no longer there and the financial independence of woman has also had an impact on the rise in divorces for this age group.
When someone finds themselves facing the end of relationship later on in life it can be a frightening prospect. Suddenly the future that seemed so certain looks different and they find themselves facing changes that they do not want. It can be a complicated and difficult process.
For the over 60s, divorce has many implications. There may be a sudden change to the expectation that they had of a standard of living for the future or they may now be faced with the prospect of financial uncertainty if they were relying on their spouses’ pension provision with no time left now to build up their own pension. They may have to cope with the prospect of a new partner spending time with their spouse during a time when they are struggling to imagine what their lives will look like without them.
The emotional fallout that occurs with any divorce is always difficult but for people in later life the emotional issues are greater. They are used to the stability and consistency of married life and the discovery that your life long partner no longer wants the same as you can have a devastating effect. Adult children equally feel a great loss and a concern for their “abandoned” parent. A person who had planned retirement with their spouse to find that plan pulled away can feel hurt and lost for a significant time. In the alternative, this may be a second marriage ending in divorce which may be painful and disheartening.
For many, the major concern surrounds financial arrangements for the future. This is likely to include discussions about who will live in the family home or whether the home will need to be sold to try and house both parties. There could be significant resistance from adult children who do not wish for their childhood home to be sold and further resistance from the spouse who does not wish to leave the home they have raised their children in. The division of assets may involve some complicated investigations and long-term memory searching to try to remember who contributed to the property and inheritance that is likely to have been received from their own loved ones.
There is also the important issue of income and how the income needs of both parties will be met. Whereas before the family may have felt unconcerned about how the parties together would cope financially, there may be limited access to funds as pension provisions are unequal or a party who hoped to retire now finds themselves facing the prospect of having to continue on at work. One party may have poor health and consideration will need to be given to their own plans for inheritance to their loved ones.
Along with the increase in divorce rate in this age group there is also an increase in the marriage rate for the over 65s. Consideration of financial arrangements should also be given on entering a new marriage at this time.
For many “silver separators” the devastating effect of the breakdown of a marriage later in life can feel overwhelming. The family lawyer must provide emotional and legal support to help clients through this transition and assist them to create their new start. Guidance must be given in a gentle but supportive way whilst ensuring the best possible outcome for the future.