While many people may imagine relationships get better as you get older, statistics suggest more and more couples aged 60 and over are divorcing. According to the Office for National Statistics, although the number of people getting divorced each year in England and Wales has been falling steadily since the mid-1990s, it has been rising steadily in the over-60s during the same period.
Between 5,000 and 6,000 men aged 60 and over divorced during the early and mid 1990s, but in 2011 the figure rose to nearly 9,500 - an increase of 73 percent. Meanwhile, for women aged 60 and over, 3,200 divorced in 1991, while 5,800 divorced in 2011.
'We’re seeing a year-on-year increase of divorce in couples over the age of 60,' says Lindsay Jones, head of family law at Manchester-based Ultimate Law Solicitors. 'No longer is there a stigma attached to getting divorced, especially at an older age. Many of the women I see have had careers and worked for much of their married life. They’ve contributed financially to their marriage and have pensions to fall back on. No longer is there the worry that if they divorce their husbands, they won’t have any financial independence.'
Jones says her initial advice is to assess carefully whether or not you want to stay in your marriage. 'Many people do get sucked into the romanticism of thinking that if they walk out of their marriage, a world of exotic travel and new love is just around the corner,' she says. 'This may be true for a small minority, but in reality, divorce at any age can be very stressful and lonely.'
For those who decide divorce is the best option, Jones has the following advice:
1. Get the right help
When looking for a solicitor, speak to friends who have been divorced and ask for their recommendations. It’s important to feel happy discussing important, personal matters with your solicitor, so find out if they offer a free initial consultation to check whether or not you think you’ll get on with them.
2. Be clear on costs
Make sure your solicitor offers a transparent policy on costs and can explain the fees to you from the outset. You should be in control and know when you will be charged, as well as understanding the various funding options available. There should be no hidden extras.
3. Think ahead
Every divorce or separation is unique and rarely straightforward, so you may need a tailor-made solution to suit your situation. This could, for example, include a case review service where another solicitor reviews your case for a fixed fee if you’re unhappy with your current solicitor.
4. Other options
You could also opt for a pay-as-you-go service if you want little involvement with your solicitor. This may include a solicitor acting for you in a shadowing capacity to help draft court applications and to prepare for court hearings.
5. Do your research
Finally, make sure you’re as informed as possible by doing your own independent research about the divorce process. That way, you’ll be in a much stronger position when discussing legal issues.
If you’re having relationship problems, you can talk to a CABA advisor about it via our 24-hour helpline or chat online at any time of the day or night. Call +44 (0)1788 556 336 or chat to an advisor online .