Whilst divorce rates for younger couples seems to be on a decline, the rate of divorcing later in life is on the rise with the divorce rates for those 65 years and older having tripled since 1990. 

There are various reasons for later life divorces such as growing apart, children having left home, retirement, or age-related illnesses, but a common factor is because they do not want to start the last chapter of their life unhappy. Divorce seems to have become more socially accepted and changes in lifestyles and opportunities mean couples feel less obliged to stay together in an unhappy marriage. 

What are the challenges of divorcing later in life?

Whilst there are unlikely to be child-care or child support issues, there are many unique challenges of divorcing later in life.

Roles and responsibilities – Unlike many younger couples, the older generations tend to adopt more traditional roles in the home and in the marriage, often meaning the husband is the breadwinner and the wife has sacrificed her career to care for the family and home. This typically means the husband tends to have earned more, is more likely to have a pension and may feel that he has contributed more financially, whilst the wife in contrast may have very little in savings, investments or a pension and could feel financially vulnerable if they divorce.  

Limited knowledge – Divorcing later in life can mean the wife sometimes has limited knowledge of the household finances and her income may only consist of an allowance from her husband. This may increase the wife’s worries of how she will survive if they divorce. In terms of ongoing maintenance, her needs would need to be considered in detail against the husband’s ability to pay. 

Pensions – The older the couple, the more likely they will have concerns regarding their pension provision and how they will manage in retirement. The pension can be shared and will need to be valued along with the other assets and then a decision made about how the pensions will be split. 

Watson Morris on divorcing later in life

Whether you are divorcing later in life or at any age you should seek legal advice. 

If you are in the later years of your life, it is even more important to ensure your financial future is protected and you can meet your needs (capital and income) in your retirement. 

The team at Watson Morris Family Law are experts in financial settlement on divorce and pensions, contact us for more information.


Written by Faye Wright

October 17, 2022

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