The over 60s is the only age bracket in which the rate of divorce has risen. You might think this is a relatively new phenomenon, however it has emerged that grandparents have increasingly decided to split since the 1990’s, whilst for all other age groups the number has continued to fall (except for a very slight rise in 2012). These numbers test the misconception that older people stay married for life.
So what is the cause of this rise? Well, there are a number of contributing factors and researchers have suggested a number of theories. It is suggested that the driving factor is life expectancy; people live longer now and therefore feel that there is a good chance of them finding love again. This coupled with the idea that they wouldn’t want to remain married when they potentially have a number of years left to establish a new, happier life, is thought to be the main reason behind the rise in so-called ‘silver splitters’
Age gaps also become more apparent as couples grow older. There is not a great deal of difference between what a 30 year old and a 45 year can do, but skip forward thirty years and you can see a clear difference between your typical 30 year old and their 75 year old spouse. Age gaps are not an insurmountable difficulty, and there are many successful age gap marriages, but it is undoubted that many relationships will feel the strain if the spouses lead increasingly different lifestyles due to their ages.Wealth is another contributing factor; I don’t mean the super-wealthy, I mean the average grandparent when I talk about this. Generally speaking, the average over 60 year old will own a house, have a decent pension and have some degree of disposable income, meaning that they have the means to get a divorce if they want to. Women are also far more empowered and financially independent today; in the past women didn’t work to the same degree as they do now and if they wanted to leave their husbands they wouldn’t have much money for themselves. They would not be able to afford a house or a flat alone. Now, women in the over 60s bracket have more financial independence than ever before; they are likely to have their own pension as well as a share in the house and other marital assets.
Another consideration that is perhaps forgotten is that there is no longer a stigma when it comes to getting divorces. From speaking to my own grandmother who came from a very Catholic upbringing, divorce wasn’t an option and if you wanted a divorce it could mean being shunned by your family or even your community. This level of stigma just doesn’t exist anymore and divorce, quite rightly, is an option open to everyone. Perhaps now is the tipping point where partners feel they are in a position to get a divorced without the fear of being an outcast.
Research shows that a number of silver splitters who have found a greater sense of happiness now that they are free from their unhappy marriages. I believe that everyone should have the right to get divorced, should they feel that is the bestoption. Unfortunately, we live in a society that is obsessed with age and stereotypes. Quite often we may assume that because ‘Nan and Grandad’ have lived a long life together that they are happy with one another and that they will always be together.
This new trend of ‘Silver Splitters’ fits in with the saying “It’s never too late to start again” (even at 70) evidence suggests that many people have forged happy and fulfilling second or even third marriages in later life.
There is a great emphasis on making divorce quicker and easier, and there is a strong push towards ‘no fault’ divorce from members of the judiciary, lawyers, politicians and the public, and it remains to be seen whether the increasing speed and ease of divorce will encourage ‘silver splitters’ even more.
If you are considering a divorce, in late life, or at any stage, and would like some help and advice please call our experienced team of divorce lawyers. We are committed to taking the best approach for our clients at all times, whether they need robust, strategic negotiation or court representation, or they prefer to take a more conciliatory approach.
by Lewis Sweeney
This article was written by Lewis Sweeney, a guest blogger of Grayfords.
Lewis is a law student who studies at the University of Westminster.
He is in the process of completing his LLB and has aspirations of becoming a barrister.