Legal advice from Jennifer Roulston, who is a partner and head of the family department at FDR Law, based in Stockton Heath
The problems of divorcing later on.
Q: My husband and I are both in our 60s and are planning to divorce. I had always imagined we would see out our twilight years together. What can we do to make the break as painless as possible for ourselves and our children?
A: The breakdown of a relationship can be stressful and frightening at any time of life but a divorce in the later years can pose its own particular problems.
For couples who had imagined growing old together, the end of a marriage can be traumatic – but others can find themselves enjoying a new and liberating beginning.
Whatever your individual circumstances, one thing is for sure – you are not alone. While divorce rates are falling generally, older couples are bucking the trend. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of divorces among people aged 60 and over has been rising in England and Wales since the mid-1990s.
Irrespective of when a divorce is instigated, we would always encourage couples to keep relations as amicable as possible. Getting expert advice is key to ensuring that both parties get a fair deal. In a lengthy marriage there could be more assets to split or a couple could be asset-rich but cash-poor. If it’s your second marriage, you may have children from previous relationships, making it even more important that new wills are drawn up or changed in order to protect everybody.
At this stage in life it is also crucial that pensions – often one of the biggest assets -are included in the equation. Wives may have sacrificed careers to bring up a family on the understanding that they would be provided for in their old age and the law recognises this when property is divided.
Jennifer Roulston is an expert in all aspects of family law and specialises in divorce, separation and financial settlements, including advice on business and pension matters. She can be contacted at Jennifer.Roulston@fdrlaw.co.uk or on 01925 230000