October 2, 2015

What you need to consider as an older divorcee

By Peter Jones, founder

With longer lives and longer health, vigour and mobility, it is unsurprising that separation and divorce rates among seniors are rising too.

Long suppressed little irritations and tensions, that might have niggled for many years, but whose impact may have been lessened by the demands of children and busy lives, could achieve greater importance once the nest is empty or people start winding down to a life after work.

It might be that one or both partners only stayed in the marriage until the children had flown and now wants out. Or, quite simply, with people living fuller lives longer, a husband or wife may simply meet somebody else they want to spend their remaining days with. With this in mind, unprecedented use of social media among the silver surfers might connect them with their long-lost first loves. See our earlier blog.

Our recent blogs have also discussed the importance of giving any split careful consideration and consulting mediation services and of not delaying when you are sure there is no hope of reconciliation, but what specific considerations should older people take on board when divorcing?

Firstly, think about your new living arrangements. At a time of life when comfort and ease might be most important, it is likely that your housing will be reduced from what you are used to, e.g. a small apartment after a large house and garden.

Any maintenance agreed might seem adequate or even generous at the time, but do bear in mind that this will have to be readjusted to your ex’s reduced pension income or if they suffer a financial loss through redundancy.

With this in mind, you will need independent financial advice to ensure that the division of retirement income is fair – including pension lump sums and ongoing receipts. Similarly, other savings and investments are likely to mature over the next few years, so all financial holdings should be examined keenly to guarantee equitable shares for both parties when they come to fruition.

Other policies, such as healthcare, insurance and death benefits must also be listed and understood before the divorce is completed, as they might have to be cancelled, cashed in or reorganised.

Do not forget court costs and professional fees, which should be factored in to your existing financial landscape.

Shared possessions and household contents and effects can become a battleground in any divorce. However, when a couple has been long-married, individual items might assume a greater sentimentality, which could generate greater conflict and bitterness. As with, any other split, it really does make sense to try to sit down and decide who has what, sensibly and without hysterics – even if it does come down to a ‘You can have that if I can have this’ negotiation.

Do not forget that, as in any divorce, you will have to think how you to break the news to any children. They may be adults, but will still probably find it something of a shock and upset, so sensitive communication is important. The need for this will be even more pronounced if there are grandchildren.

Divorce can be hard on anybody, even when quick and amicable, and it is often a thoroughly bruising experience that delivers significant life changes. As such, seniors who split must take special care to minimise these downsides as they will feel them more keenly than other age groups, no matter how young at heart or adventurous they feel.

If you have any comments, queries or concerns on divorce related issues, leave a comment below, call the team at Jones Myers on 0113 246 0055 or tweet us on @helpwithdivorce