The rise of the silver divorcees

Fewer people may be getting divorced in England and Wales each year, but the average age of couples ending their marriages has hit record highs – and generally the older a couple are, the more complex the financial settlements.

The good news, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), is that 2015 saw a decrease in the number of divorces by 9% to 101,055. Not only is there a falling divorce rate, the statistics also reveal that marriages are lasting longer. A recent article in The Telegraph noted that the average age of marriage for men has risen by a decade since 1970 from 23 and a half to 33 and a quarter in 2014, and women’s has increased from 21.8 to 31.3.

Despite these trends, the average age of divorce has risen to just 45 years for men and just under 44 years for women – an all-time high – with couples marrying young more likely to split. If a couple are in their mid-forties and above, it’s likely they’ll have larger pension pots and more complex financial affairs to wade through. Private pensions top the list as the single biggest component of the UK’s £11 trillion household wealth, accounting for 40% of this figure.

According to Aviva, private pension assets could total about £120,000 in combined private pension assets if the couple were to divorce in their 50s (assuming they married when aged 30). This accumulated wealth will be a critical factor in the divorce settlement and will surely affect the financial futures of both parties.

You may have clients either going through a divorce at the moment, contemplating it in the future or managing their finances and re-building their lives after the split. Either way, negotiating the financial fallout from a divorce in mid or later life can be a tricky business – one which is likely to require patience and tact by the bucket load.

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