Legal advice for ‘silver splitters’ and those tying the knot in later life
Legal advice for 'silver splitters' and those tying the knot in later life

Longer life expectancy, reduced stigma around divorce and more retirees on social media/online dating sites have contributed to an increase in separation among the over 60s.

Known as ‘silver splitters’, the divorce rate among this age group is rising, according to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which goes hand in hand with an increase in people re-marrying in later life.

Whilst divorce in England and Wales is in decline (a 28 per cent fall in the number of divorces between 2005 and 2015), older people are bucking the trend.

In the same period, the number of men divorcing, aged 65 and over, went up by 23 per cent and the number of women of the same age divorcing increased by 38 per cent.

Meanwhile, the marriage rates for those aged 65 and over showed an increase for both sexes since 2009.

Confidence in using the internet for online dating, being more financially comfortable and an ethos of enjoying life to the full are among the reasons cited for more people looking for, and finding, love later in life.

Falling in or out of love at a more mature stage can typically involve added legal complexities.

The family law team at Buckles Solicitors LLP have some tips to avoid common pitfalls:

  • The family home is often the most valuable asset and whether it is sold or inherited by one or the other spouse will depend on records held by the Land Registry. Where the family home is in the sole name of your spouse only, it is crucial to register your Matrimonial Home Rights with the Land Registry
  • Make sure you understand the full value of your pension or any pensions claims you are losing as a result of the divorce. The Courts can deal with this by way of a pension sharing order, which will state what percentage of your spouse’s pension pot you will receive
  • Loss of capacity can happen at any stage in life through accidents or illness, but the probability of this increases as you get older. It is important to consider who can step in as your litigation friend in the event that you lose capacity to provide instructions to your solicitor
  • A Will is important at the best of times, but having a legally-binding Will when going through a divorce is crucial. If you were to die without a Will, the intestacy rule will apply and your spouse would automatically inherit the first £250,000 of your estate and all your personal belongings
  • Ensure you have legally-binding pre-nuptial agreement – a contract between a couple who intend to marry. Pre-nuptial agreements are becoming increasingly popular, and there is some merit in considering such a document, especially if this is a party’s second or third marriage. The agreement sets out each other’s financial situation in a full and frank manner and also expressly describes what financial arrangements should ensue if the couple subsequently separate or divorce

Buckles Solicitors LLP family lawyer, Anika Aston, said “The figures surrounding those marrying or divorcing later in life are fascinating and inevitably there will be speculation as to what lies behind them.

An obvious viewpoint is that people are keen to divorce and remarry post-65, or indeed marry for the first time, because life expectancy is rising and there is a ‘life is too short’ mentality.

As well as this being a generation which prioritises its happiness and wellbeing, the ‘silver surfers’ – as they have become known – have a greater confidence when it comes to using the internet to access online dating websites.

However, preparing for a profound change in your life after years of living together can be fraught with anxiety and uncertainly, and seeking legal advice will help to answer the many questions you will undoubtedly have.