May 24, 2013

Love and Marriage – a wakeup call to stay together forever, says leading lady

Actress Alison Steadman, the star of Love and Marriage, a forthcoming TV drama about a couple that separate in retirement, spoke from the heart when she said that broken homes are now the norm.

Steadman divorced film director Mike Leigh, with whom she has two sons, after a 28-year marriage and expressed the hope that her new role would encourage unhappy couples to ‘appreciate each other’ rather than walking away.

The plotline explores the emotional issues that lead a retired woman, played by Steadman, to leave her husband and children. As figures from the Office of National Statistics show, the ‘silver separators’ are no longer just the stuff of drama, but a growing group.

If art is to mirror life with some accuracy it will be interesting to see how the writers tackle some of the critical financial issues affecting older couples if their relationship falls apart. These include:

Who held the purse strings?

It is often the case that one partner has taken the lead on managing the couple’s financial affairs and the other party has been happy for them to do so. If they separate it is important that both parties know how much they own and owe.

It is often the case that despite not making major financial decisions during the marriage, after divorce, in addition to dealing with the emotional side of break up, one party may need support and advice to make important decisions about their economic future for the first time.


Often, by retirement a couple will have repaid their mortgage but dividing the equity equally will mean that both parties need to adjust to the idea of each living in a smaller property.

Pension entitlement

During the working years one party in the marriage may have built up a sizeable pension, whilst the other stayed at home to bring up children. The wife – and it usually is the wife -can make a claim to a share of that pension which is income they could rely on if they are facing later life as a single person.

Making a new will

If one, or both partners, end up re-marrying or cohabiting, there is a need to ensure that the family assets are properly protected and in any split it is sensible to re-visit your will. Any will made prior to a divorce becomes invalid in respect of any gift to the spouse, once the divorce is granted.

Making later life divorce the stuff of drama suggests that conflict will lead the action. As champions of collaborative law we know that, by offering couples a less adversarial and often cheaper way forward, we can help avoid potentially costly courtroom battles.

With our help, most people are able to work through the divorce process with minimal emotional and financial stress. Taking the drama out of a life-changing break up is what we do best.

Putting the drama in is best left to the writers and actors of works of fiction like Love and Marriage.