These days I am as likely to meet a client in their 60’s wanting to divorce as in their 30’s. The Office for National Statistics this week stated that divorce amongst those aged 60 and over has increased in England and Wales since the 1990’s whilst the divorce rate generally has decreased.
There may be many reasons for this surprising trend. With better health and longer life expectancy, those in retirement are wanting more out of their later lives and may be wanting a different life in retirement than their long term spouse. Comment was made by a representative from Relate that age gaps between spouses can put a greater strain on a marriage in later life - again leading to possible separation and divorce.
With occupational pension schemes from the good old days available, equity in their homes after the rising market of the 70’s and 80’s, and semi liquid savings mean that couples in their 60’s often have greater financial flexibility to separate and still live a comfortable life.
For those couples separating later in life, the pension is often amongst the most valuable of the marital assets. It is important that if equality of income is to be achieved between the spouses, proper advice (whether financial, actuarial or legal) should be taken if one spouse is not to miss out.
The value of pensions can vary enormously across the different types of scheme - most commonly either private pensions, occupation schemes or public sector provision. It is not a question of simply taking the face value of the pension and adding them all up and dividing by two. Indeed the need for legal advice about pensions upon separation is always true but more particularly when the pensions are at their most valuable in older age and the need for income in retirement from such assets paramount.
Angela Moores is a Partner in the Family Law Group of SAS Daniels.
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