Facing A Divorce During Retirement? 4 Key Things You Need To Consider

  • Author: David Crosby
  • Posted on: 22nd May 2019
  • Posted in: Blog

At Crosby & Woods over the last few years, we have noticed that there is an increasing number of couples separating or considering divorce as they approach retirement (or are already retired).

According to this article in Psychology Today "Over time, historically, single life gets better and better. And for individuals, as they age, satisfaction with their single lives gets even better, too. Maybe having a romantic partner was once relevant to feelings of loneliness, but it is not so relevant anymore."

This could explain the reason why "grey divorce" rates have been more prevalent in recent years, alongside the idea in this day and age, divorce is not so frowned upon. The ageing population is also a factor to consider because as couples live longer and fuller lives they are perhaps less likely to put up with a difficult marriage during their retirement. 

In terms of the implications of divorce for older people, there are perhaps more issues than normal that can arise, reflecting the length of time that a couple has been together and what that time together has created.

Here are four key things you need to consider:

  1. Assets – in a long marriage it is likely that the assets both parties have will have become intertwined far more closely, than for couples under 50 where it is not unusual to still have separate bank accounts, property and savings and therefore the demarcation as to what belongs to which party is a bit clearer. It is unlikely that such couples will have a pre-nuptial agreement, as these have only really come into use relatively recently, so the starting point will be how to divide the assets in a way that is fair to both, and which allows them to live reasonably.
  2. Money- sadly causes more arguments than anything else, simply because one pot having to suddenly fund two separate lives and homes is automatically halved meaning the life enjoyed previously cannot be funded or maintained to the same level. A retired couple is on a finite sum that is unlikely, save for an inheritance or lottery win, to change. A return to work that was not expected, can mean long-held dreams as to what retirement would be like disappear. After a lifetime of work, the thought of having to start again, therefore, needs to be very carefully managed to minimise ill will.
  3. Fear of being alone- starting afresh is difficult at any age, but the older you are, the sense of it being just too late for a major change to all that has gone before can be overwhelming. The second common concern is what affect a divorce will have on any children and in many cases grandchildren who may feel to a degree torn between two people they have always seen as being one happy family unit.
  4. Stress- stress brought on by the ending of a marriage is common. The party that instigated the change can suffer anger and resentment from their children (and grandchildren) for having caused such upheaval later in life, irrespective of whether they had good reason to make that change.

Our Advice

We would advise all clients facing a divorce later in life to sit down and speak openly and honestly, as whilst such conversations are undoubtedly very difficult and painful, ultimately that removes many of the questions that children will have as to why they have chosen to act as they have.

As can clearly be seen from the above, there are some aspects similar to any divorce, but there are definitely age-specific ones unique to divorce for older couples. In the UK the number of such people divorcing is ever increasing and so it is absolutely essential that such divorces are handled sympathetically throughout and ideally where a degree of advanced knowledge as to the nature of extent of any change is known so as to lessen the level of shock that may be experienced once the decision to divorce is made public.

At Crosby & Woods, our experienced Family Law Solicitors are always happy to arrange a meeting face to face or over the phone to discuss their circumstances and give an indication as to what their options are and what the likely outcome of change will mean for them.

To arrange a meeting please call us on 01273 734 600 or email us at advice@crosbywoods.co.uk