Mental Health


Mandy Kloppers

Why More Couples Are divorcing at Older Ages

According to statistics from the ONS, divorce rates are on the rise in older couples. So called silver separators are choosing to sever official marital ties with some evidence indicating a link between children moving out of the family home. This is certainly one reason, but in this article, we explore the myriad of possibilities as to why those over 50 are the group with the higher divorce rates. 

Pension division 

Private pension pots make up the largest portion of household wealth in the UK however, it is understood that many divorcing couples are not aware that their pension can be affected in divorce, and more people are making no claim on their former spouse’s pension fund. This oversight may have contributed to higher rates in some older couples who were simply eager to get divorced having waited a long time to do so. 

Societal changes 

The attitude towards marriages has changed over the decades. It is now more socially acceptable to divorce as culture and society has shifted from the last century where divorce was more frowned upon. There are now more women in work, meaning their financial dependence on men has waned and they no longer need to stay married for financial security.

The drift

For some couples married in their twenties, there has been a gradual development of unhappiness and resentment through the course of their 20+ year marriage. Differences in attitudes towards their future, what they should do with finances and a lack of emotional fulfilment have all contributed to a steady shift away from one another. Individuals now want to live their rest of their days doing what they want to do and in charge of their own future. 

Empty nest syndrome

As mentioned, for some couples, the only reason they have chosen to stay married for so long is down to their children. When children have left home to embark on their own lives, some couples have spent so long focussing on them, they have lost the connection with each other and have found they now have little in common. 

Infidelity and dishonesty 

Couples who have been through infidelity in their marriage or dishonesty about finances have found they cannot move past the betrayals and have decided divorce is their only choice. They may have been through years and years of conflict, and abuse and finally see a ‘way out’. 

People are living longer

The population is getting older as medical advancements take effect. At present, there are approximately 11 million people over the age of 65 and in another decade, there will be 13 million in that age bracket. The ONS data reveals that although divorce rates are generally on the decline with a 28% drop between 2002 and 2015, older couples are ‘bucking the trend’. The same period showed that men divorcing over 65 rose by 23% and 38% for women. 

No-Fault divorces

In April 2022, new laws for divorcing were brought into use. Known as no-fault divorces, couples are now able to apply for a divorce without having to assign a ‘reason’ for the breakdown of their marriage. This is contrary to previous rules where in order for a divorce to go ahead, a suitable reason such as unreasonable behaviour, adultery or desertion had to be cited. 

Second marriages  

Many older individuals are in their second or third marriages. These marriages statistically have a higher divorce rate. Typical reasons for the failures point to problems associated with blended families, differing attitudes towards finances, dealing with ex-partners on a regular basis and the belief that they will survive another divorce as they already have survived one! 


Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


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