Increase in over 60’s divorce rate

According to the Office of the National Statistics, there has been an increase in the number of over 60’s getting divorced.

The reason for this is unclear, but many experts claim that older couples are drifting apart and choosing to separate after their children have flown the nest. Of course with statistics as they are, it may well be that this was an exceptional year but, whatever the reason may be, people are still facing the heartache and difficulty surrounding divorce and separation.

Of course, by the time you reach this stage in your life you have probably done your best to provide for your children and are looking forward to enjoying your life and the fruits of your hard labour. So what happens when you divorce?

Is a wife who has stayed at home to raise the family whilst her husband has gone out to work at a disadvantage because, for practical reasons, all of the assets are in her husband’s name?

The simple answer is no, assets that are acquired during the course of the marriage are considered to be matrimonial assets available for distribution regardless of whose name they are in. As always, there are exceptions to this, some assets acquired before the marriage can be ‘ring fenced’.

What about an asset inherited by one person before or during the marriage? Is that going to be divided between a couple on divorce? The answer is not straightforward. If inheritance has been received during the course of the marriage, and has been amalgamated with other assets, for example, being used to pay off the mortgage on the home or used to add a conservatory to it then, in all likelihood, it is going to be considered a matrimonial asset.

If however, one party has received inheritance which they have kept separately, for example, shares in a company, then it is likely that those assets will be ‘ring fenced’ and whilst their value would be considered, they would only be available to the parties where they are required to meet their reasonable needs.

What about pensions? If one person has been the main earner and has accrued a good pension but the other has remained home to look after the children and has little or no pension will they suffer in retirement?

This is an important point for all those that divorce but particularly to those who are approaching retirement age. There are various options when it comes to pensions. They can be offset against other assets like the house and savings or shared. You should always seek advice on the best option for you.

This information is designed to give an overview of the situation and should you find yourself in this position you should seek legal advice specific to your circumstances.

Article produce by Demelza Butler, 28th November 2011