28 November 2012
Family Law Solicitor Edward Kitchen discusses reports that 'Silver Splitters' are on the increase
An article in today'sDaily Telegraph indicates that the most recent statistics show an increase in the number of couples over 60 who are going through a Divorce. The thrust of the article is that, for many people in their sixties, this is a time of opportunity as people live longer and are in better health. As they retire, it gives them the option to pursue different, and separate, paths. For many, this is seen as a positive step. Separation and Divorce are, of course, huge steps to take at any stage in a person's life. However, with the ability to share assets, in particular pensions, this can often enable a couple to go their separate ways more easily as they approach, or reach, retirement. Mortgages are often paid off by that stage, and housing needs can be reduced as Children are often grown up and independent. On the flip side, however, in many cases the best "earning" years are often behind couples in their 60's. Also, adult children often have very strong views about their parents splitting up.
Whatever the psychology, the fact remains that couples who split need to think carefully about anydivision of their finances, whether they have been married for 5 years or 50 years. Sometimes, older couples can be more entrenched in their views about who has made the greater contribution to the marriage financially. This can lead to the stereotype of a husband wondering why he has to give a huge amount of his "hard-earned" estate to his wife who hadn't worked during the marriage, but had brought up the kids.
The rule of thumb is basically, the longer the marriage, the more likely it will be that assets, including Pensions, will be divided broadly equally. For anyone in this situation, the best thing to do is understand what can and can't be achieved. Taking advice at an early stage can be a hugely beneficial step and good Family Lawyers can advise not only over likely outcomes, but also on how to achieve a settlement as amicably as possible so that partners who have been together for a long time can separate yet retain good relationships going forward, something many people see as crucial where they have adult children.
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