Almost half of the divorces granted in England and Wales occur in the first 10 years of marriage so it may be tempting to conclude that divorce might be for younger couples, but not so.
As the average age of getting married rises - and this currently stands at around 33 years of age – so we should see the average age for making application for a divorce rise, and 'yes' the average age for divorce is currently 45 for men and 42 for women - divorce being highest in the age group 40 - 44.
But having identified that the divorce rate peaks in the early 40s we should not overlook the fact that the 'other' half of divorces are granted to couples in their late 40s and beyond. In my office I now see many couples in their 50s and 60s seeking advice on separation and divorce.
I could only speculate on the reasons why the numbers separating in these age groups are increasing but one thing I feel certain about is that the older the couple, often the more complex matters are involved with the separation.
When I am advising a client who is slightly older the ages and needs of any children involved can be different from those with a young family. Financial settlements need particularly careful consideration as there will often be pensions involved (if not already in payment), possibly there may be a successful family business built up together and the future earning abilities of each partner as they approach retirement may be changing.
Often clients at the later ages may have been married a considerable length of time, it may be many years ago that the wife gave up her career and at these ages it is not uncommon for there not to be full understanding as to investments held and current earnings as historically one or other person has been responsible for managing the family finances.
With retirement not far away and reducing opportunities to increase income, separation for older couples can be difficult both emotionally and on a practical level.
Identifying the detail of a 20 year marriage and achieving a settlement which ensures that both parties are able to move forward with a secure financial future needs an experienced family lawyer. Often adult children can become involved in offering 'advice' and it can be confusing to know what to do.
This is no time for looking to cut corners in your choice of legal support. With over 28 years’ experience handling divorces I have seen times change over the years. I am seeing many more couples in their later years making the decision to separate - whereas they may not have been comfortable to do this 25 years ago today society is much more receptive of divorce at all ages and can see the positives to be gained from making a move.
Divorce after a long marriage can be particularly hard for both parties but my advice is to be sure that your chosen family lawyer has the necessary experience and understanding of the complexities of settling lengthy marriages to ensure that the future heading towards retirement can be a happy one.
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