Silver Separators

12th June 2020
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Fewer people are getting married as many millennials prefer to cohabit. Some have co-habitation agreements but many don’t. Sometimes experiencing divorce as a child is a strong deterrent to getting married yourself. Fewer millennial marriages means fewer millennial divorces and the proportion of over 60s getting divorced appears proportionately high. These divorcing couples are sometimes known as Silver Separators.

When divorce happens in older age, after decades of being together, when you have made it through the 7 year itch and the fraught 40’s and think you are ‘safe’, how do you deal with divorce?

As with any divorce, each situation is unique but there are some differences in the way we, as family lawyers, and the courts approach a divorce where a couple has had a long marriage and the individuals are older.

Children are more likely to be independent, pensions are likely to be larger and roles are likely to be entrenched. There isn’t as much time to change your financial situation when you separate in later life; you are less likely to re-marry and your pension is unlikely to increase much before you retire. Clients in their 60’s are more conscious of their long term needs and how their assets might meet those needs than clients divorcing in their 30’s or 40’s.

The family home may have to be sold, which could be upsetting for the whole family. Pensions are likely to be the next largest asset. Pensions are complicated and in Jersey we don’t have provision for pension sharing, which is the preferred option in the UK.

When one becomes two there are two houses to pay for and two sets of bills and income is unlikely to double. There may also be inheritance issues to sort through and inheritance and pension issues can be very complicated. Many people don’t have sufficient pension provision to meet their needs in any event and if only one party had worked during the marriage there will only be one pension to divide.

How does it affect circumstances if there is a new partner, or if both people meet new people? How are their assets and needs and contributions considered? Often this may be the most painful aspect of any divorce.

Indeed the hardest part of a divorce may be the emotional upheaval and the shock of separation, but especially after a long marriage. Your partner may have been your closest friend, you may be completely reliant on that person and you had expected to be together forever. You may have been emotionally or financially dependent on that person for decades and not know where to start when negotiating a settlement. You may not have any idea what assets you have if your partner has always dealt with the finances. A sudden change in these roles could be hugely traumatic.

It is important for a family lawyer to provide appropriate support to a client who is suffering from the psychological consequences of a break up. Many lawyers will recommend counselling at this stage to ensure a client has the professional support they need at a very difficult time.

Instructing the right lawyer who will not only look after your financial needs but also give you the support you need is hugely important.

If you need any advice contact Corbett Le Quesne on 733030 or visit our website or e-mail

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