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The rise of the 'silver divorce'

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Recent figures released by the Office for National Statistics show that the number of people aged 60 and over divorcing has risen dramatically since the 1990s. This is against the general trend of a fall in divorce rates. In 2011, nearly 9,500 men aged 60 and over divorced. This is a 73% increase compared with 1991. Similar trends are observed for women aged 60 and over; 5,800 women in this age group divorced in 2011 compared with 3,200 in 1991.

One of the questions that might be asked is why is the divorce rate rising for people aged 60 and over? A simple answer is that the population of England and Wales is growing and ageing. Other academic research has produced several other possible reasons for the rise in the divorce of people over 60 and over including increased life expectancy, a loss of stigma in being divorced and the increasing involvement of women in employment. This means that women have become more financially independent and are more likely to have built up their own pensions and in general more able to support themselves outside of marriage than in the past.

The ONS said: "Even with a small chance of divorce during each year of marriage, marriages are now more likely to end in divorce and less likely to end in the death of one spouse than they were in 1991."

The figures underline that getting divorced is a very real issue for older people and our divorce specialists at Stephensons understand that this is a very emotional period of a person’s life.

By Aaron Byrne, Graduate Paralegal, family law department

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