Divorce Rates for Over 60s On the Rise

Divorce Rates for Over 60s On the Rise
Updated: In: Family

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the divorce rate for over 60s is continuing to rise.

The rising divorce rate for over 60s contrasts the overall divorce figures which have been seeing a steady decline.

In this article we look at why the divorce rate for over 60s is on the rise, and what factors over 60s couples should be aware of when considering a divorce.

Why are Over 60s Divorce Rates on the Rise?

In the 1980s divorce rates for over 60s was relatively stable. However, divorce rates started to rise in the 1990s. ONS figures show that from 1990s to 2011, the figure regarding men being granted divorce had risen by 73%.

Although husbands tend to be older than their wives, the trend remains is similar amongst women. As many as 5,800 women over 60 divorced in 2011 compared to just 3,200 in 1991.

A combination of factors attributes to why divorce rates are increasing in the over 60s population.

Firstly, people are living longer than before, with more active lives. Many couples find they have simply grown apart by the time they reach their 60s and their children have left home.

Additionally, the ONS states that more women are likely to be working in their 60s. As a result, many women over 60 have built up their own pensions making them less financially dependent on their husbands and therefore able to seek a divorce.

Furthermore, in April 2022, the UK government introduced no-fault divorce, allowing separating couples to no longer prove a fault-based fact against their ex-partner. This supports couples to divorce more amicably.

Finally, as the social stigma surrounding separation has largely diminished in recent years, it is likely that as more baby boomers reach their 60s the rate of divorce will continue to increase.

Implications of a Divorce Later in Life

Although couples over 60 face similar issues that all divorcing couples face, there are some problems that pose as more relevant.

In a lot of cases, children will have left home by the time the couple reach their 60s, therefore, there shouldn’t need to be concerns about contact arrangements. However, they may have to pay close attention to issues such as inheritance and tax planning.

Protecting Your Finances in a Divorce

In a divorce the couples’ wealth, including the house, will often be owned jointly by both parties. When one partner passes away, the estate will pass to the other without any inheritance tax issues. However, once a couple divorce, that automatic exemption no longer stands. Therefore, couples will need to look closely at other arrangements to protect their estate in a divorce.

In most cases, the couple will have to reach a financial settlement during their divorce. All the couple’s assets, including pensions, will be taken into account when calculating the matrimonial pot. This can be a timely process, especially when involving pensions. This must take place before a final settlement can be reached.

Selling the Family Home

Another consideration for divorcing couples is what will happen to their family home. Couples who divorce later in life may need to downsize their home as being retired or close to retirement age can make it harder to get a mortgage. It’s common that divorcees will need to sell their shared home and buy in cash with the share of the proceeds.

Will Assets be Split 50:50?

In cases where one party has a larger pension pot, pensions can be split on divorce, with a percentage of the funds being transferred to the recipient’s chosen fund within four months a Decree Absolute. From there, the pension in fully in the control of that recipient and they can do with it as they choose. For over 60s looking to divorce, all matrimonial assets are important and should not always simply be 50:50 split. Instead, the percentage split should be calculated with the help of a pension’s actuary. Factors such as the age of both parties and the regular income generated by the fund should be considered.

Will My Children Miss Out if My Partner Remarries?

Some individuals may be concerned about their children’s inheritance if their partner remarries. Therefore, as part of divorce negotiations, couples with children often agree that to write a new will leaving at least half their estate to their children. Although this is not binding law, most people will stick to it and if not, the documentation can be used as evidence in the future, should the children wish to dispute their parents will under the 1975 Inheritance Act.

Rethinking the Will

It’s important to have a will in place at any point in your life. However, for divorcing couples over 60 having an up to date will is of particular importance. This is because, the will is likely to leave the estate to your partner. Couples will need to consider if they want to change this factor once they divorce. If not their ex partner, who will now benefit?

Alternatives to Divorce for Older Couples

A divorce might not suit all couples. Instead, some couples simply do not wish to go through the process. Some couples want to split but want to benefit from the inheritance tax exemptions given to spouses.

In this case, couples can seek a separation agreement. This allows them to live apart and formally agree on how to split their finances. This agreement does not permit you to remarry or transfer a share of your pension. Additionally, you will be able to maintain a tax benefit of staying together and leave your assets to your partner if you die. These assets will not incur inheritance tax.

Are you are considering divorce and want to discuss your options? Get in contact with our team of divorce lawyers on 03458 941 622 or complete an online enquiry form.

Legal Disclaimer.

All advice is correct at time of publication.