Why more people are divorcing later in life

The fact that we’re all living longer is thought to be one of the factors behind a surprising rise in the number of marriages amongst those aged 65 and over – and a higher number of people are divorcing later in life.

The latest data from the Office of National Statistics shows that in the decade between 2004 and 2014 there was a massive 46% rise over in the number of over 65s getting married.

These figures buck the trend across the population in general which has seen marriage and divorce rates falling.

Between 2005 and 2015 divorce in England and Wales fell by 28% but in the over 65 age group there was a rise of 23% in the number of men divorcing and an even larger increase for women of 38% over the same time period.

So why are more people divorcing later in life?

The figures can be partly explained by the fact that there are more over 65s in the population. We’re all living longer and this age group has grown by 20% in the past 10 years.

As life expectancy rises, people are more inclined to start again later in life, prompting the phenomenon of the so-called “silver splitters”. Plus, this is the trend-setting ‘baby boomer’ generation that has high expectations when it comes to happiness and lifestyle and isn’t afraid to embrace new ideas – and even online dating.

Over 65s are savvy about divorce and money

Interestingly, over 65s are often more aware of the pitfalls of divorce and how to avoid them than other age groups.

We find that clients who are divorcing in their 60s and 70s particularly value the advice and support of a specialist family solicitor and see it as an investment, helping them protect the lifestyle they enjoy and the financial wellbeing they have come to rely on.

This is a section of the population that tends to be better off financially than previous generations, not to mention younger age groups, and is therefore more cautious when remarrying. Many over 65s are keen to consider pre-nuptial agreements as a way of protecting their assets for themselves and their family if the relationship breaks down. In short, they recognise that they are comfortably off and want to keep it that way, whatever happens.

Those divorcing later in life have often built up quite a nest egg and are enjoying the benefits of a good pension. They have a comfortable lifestyle and, whilst they are prepared to prioritise their own happiness even if that means leaving a long term marriage, they are not willing to risk their future financial security.


Andrew Meehan is individually recommended for family law by both Chambers 2017 and the Legal 500 2016. He is also a Resolution accredited specialist solicitor for divorce cases involving complex financial and property matters.

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