Family Law Experts At Irwin Mitchell React To Latest Divorce Figures

Office Of National Statistics Reveal Rise In People Over 50 Divorcing


The latest figures released today (23 November) from the Office of National Statistics has revealed a rise in people over 50 getting a divorce.

It also showed the number of people getting a divorce in England and Wales decreased by 2.9 per cent in 2013.

There were a total of 114,720 divorces in England and Wales in 2013 compared to 118,140 to divorces in 2012. The figures also reveal that the number of divorces in 2013 was highest among men and women between 40 and 44.

Nearly half (48 per cent) of couple divorcing in 2013 had at least one child under 16 living in the family home and over a fifth (21 per cent) of the children in 2013 were under five.

There were significantly more men over 50 divorcing than women in 2013 with nearly 3,000 more men opting for a divorce.

Expert Opinion
“There has been a significant rise in people over 50 getting a divorce. The issue of so-called silver separation is now more common and acknowledged than ever before. We have seen a number of cases when people at this point in their life simply drift apart, often as a result of empty nest syndrome which emerges when children have grown up and left the family home.

“This shifts the dynamics of a relationship and can mean that issues or animosity which had been placed to one side in the past comes once again to the fore. Similarly, with life expectancy rising, those in unhappy relationships may simply not be looking to spend another 20 or 30 years in their current situation.

“While it can be a traumatic process to go through at any age, mature divorcees often face more complications including pensions, property and other assets, which makes it important to seek specialist advice as early as possible.

“Unmarried couples would be wise to consider putting an agreement in place outlining how they would want their assets to be split if their relationship hit problems. This would go some way to ensuring that both parties understand their position if separation became a likelihood.”
Alison Hawes, Partner

Family law expert, Alison Hawes at Irwin Mitchell has compiled the following advice for older divorcees:


“Collaborative law and mediation are more holistic methods of dispute resolution which can help avoid lengthy court battles and lessen the impact upon any children involved.”

Pre and Post-nups

“Pre and post-nuptial agreements are proving both popular and effective for the over 55s because they ease the divorce process by protecting assets that have been built up earlier in life and ensuring inheritances are kept ‘in the family’ .”


“Recent reforms mean it is now possible for over 55s to cash in some types of pensions in full and while this might facilitate a divorce settlement, there could be significant tax consequences and financial implications for which people considering divorce should seek sound advice.”

Maintenance Payments

“These can help support an older divorcee on the road to financial independence, especially in cases where they haven’t worked for many years and need support to help meet the costs of running a household.”

Contact Rights

“Older separating couples may still have minor children to consider as well as concerns about losing contact with grandchildren, but in certain cases the court can make orders to help maintain these relationships.”