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Couples divorcing later in life face greater financial challenges, experts warn

Couples divorcing in later life may face greater financial challenges than younger couples, experts have warned.

The report comes as the number of ‘silver splitters’ – defined as couples divorcing over the age of 65 – rose significantly over the last two decades.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the number of men divorcing aged 65 and over rose by 23 per cent between 2005 and 2015, while the number of women divorcing aged 65 and over grew by 38 per cent over the same period.

Highlighting the figures, experts warned that divorcing later in life comes with greater financial implications than those who divorce earlier in life – underlining the importance of professional advice in the earliest stages of separation.

“Later-life break-ups generally mean considering more complex financial affairs,” said Keith Richards, chief executive of the Personal Finance Society.

“It often involves dividing a greater amount of assets – such as the family home, pensions, maintenance and tax planning.”

Ceri Griffiths, a partner at Willow Brook Lifestyle Financial Planning, added: “You will have a lifetime’s worth of assets to consider, which often includes a much-loved family home.

“But having a clear view on what any settlement looks like and how it works is vital.”

Separate research published earlier this year also found that few couples are aware of pension rights in divorce, meaning women – who are more likely to have taken a career break to look after children – are most at risk of poverty after divorce.

“Splitting pensions fairly in a divorce can prevent profound and long-lasting effects for those involved,” said Ash Patel, Justice Programme Head at the Nuffield Foundation, which published the study.

“However, it is easy to see how pensions, which are often perceived as complex and quite intangible, are overlooked and avoided during a time of emotional stress and potentially immediate financial uncertainty.”

Likewise, a paper published last year found that women who divorce later in life may be “missing out on huge sums” in state pension rights.

This is because women who reached the state pension age before 06 April 2016 come under the old state pension divorce system, which makes “significant provision for divorced women”.

For help and advice on related matters, please get in touch with our expert family law team today.

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Peter Burden

Peter Burden

Associate Director and Head of the Family Department at Mander Hadley Solicitors
I am experienced in all areas of family law, including divorce, financial remedy claims, disputes over children, separation agreements, cohabitation disputes, pre and post nuptial agreements, living together agreements, non-molestation orders and occupation orders.

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