Silver Splitters – The Over 50s Getting Divorced in the UK

09 December 2015

An in depth report published today by Co-op Legal Services and Co-op Funeralcare looks at the over 50 age group and their 'Achievements, Regrets and Bucket Lists', and the results make fascinating reading.

The survey splits the data between the over 50s, over 60s and over 70s and it highlights some stark differences between these age groups in terms of their levels of happiness and achievements in life.

The Co-op report states that 17% of people over 50 regret staying in an unhappy relationship so long, and that 56% of over 50s have some regrets about the relationships in their lives.

1 in 10 people report their regrets about ending the relationship with their first love. In addition, those just entering their 50s are less likely to see meeting their partner as a happy achievement in their life.

So following on from this data, does the divorce data actually show that the over 50s are acting on their regrets?

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) produced a report showing the percentage of people getting divorced, and their age at the time of divorce, and additionally split this data by gender. It showed that men over 50 were more likely to start the divorce process than women over 50, but that these figures have drastically risen since records began in 1950.

In 1950, 1.3% of men over 50 and 0.3% over 60 started the divorce process, with less than 1% of women over 50 and 0.2% over 60 doing the same.

The ONS decided to split the over 50s into two age ranges – 50 to 54 and 55 to 59. This showed that most over 50s divorce when they are aged between 50 and 54, with 12% of men and 10% of women listed in this category. This falls to 8% of men and 5.7% of women aged from 55 to 59, with a much smaller proportion ending their marriages once they are 60 and over – with 2.3% of men and 1.7% of women.

There are some issues in divorce that are unique to people over 50; most couples will have already been together for more than 30 years and the thought of another 30 years together, due to the increases in life expectancy, can push many couples into rethinking their retirement years together.

Additionally, the Courts have moved towards a 50/50 spilt of assets as a starting point, and this is now much more favourable for a woman who has spent most of her life looking after the children and the home, which was much more common in this generation.

Splitting a pension at this point in life can also create some significant issues for the 'Silver Splitters' and it's vital to get expert advice from a specialist Divorce Solicitor to ensure that the pension split is fair to both parties.

What is obvious following this report is that there is much to be positive about for people over the age of 50, but there are also challenges.

To read the Co-op report see Achievements, Regrets and Bucket Lists - The new 50+

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