Increase in ‘silver divorces’ – percentage of divorces after 30 years of marriage doubles

Date: 10 Mar 2023

Vicente Luckina Bunn

Private client law firm Forsters on the rise of ‘silver divorces’ – those involving couples married for 30 years or more.

Couple is divorced who handed their engagement ring to the divorce documents that the lawyer was clarifying.

‘Silver divorces’ – those involving couples married for 30 years or more – are on the rise, says leading private client law firm, Forsters. Silver divorces are now 8% of all divorces, representing 8,558 from a total of 111,932 divorces completed in 2021. In 1991, only 4% of divorces were of 30+ year marriages.

Joanne Edwards, Head of Family and Partner at Forsters, says that this rise in older couples divorcing is triggering an increased number of very complex financial disputes. Divorces between couples whose wealth has been built up over decades and whose financial affairs are heavily intertwined present unique challenges. There can be difficulties around the fact that neither party may be earning an income and that pensions in payment represent a significant part of the settlement.

Joanne says that planning a remarriage to avoid this issue can be extremely challenging. In some cases, she says, the best advice to an older person looking to start a new relationship while protecting their share of the family wealth can sometimes simply be not to get married. This is particularly the case if each party is independently wealthy and has no need for the financial security that marriage can provide.

The increase in silver divorces is likely due in part to changing attitudes towards divorce amongst older generations. Couples are now more likely to decide that after their children grow up and leave home, they no longer have anything in common and choose to go their separate ways.

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