Image over substance when it comes to divorce?

Divorce among women over 60 has shot up by 81 per cent during the past two decades, figures from the Office for National Statistics show. There are similar trends for men in the same age group while for younger couples the trend is reversing. Is this really surprising?

Any stigma attached to divorce is dead and buried, and older individuals in dull relationships are less likely to grin and bear it; people generally are living longer and women in particular are more economically independent. The spending power of the over-60s continues to surge as businesses are keen to attract the grey pound whether for anti-ageing creams and cosmetic surgery, holidays and health or for fashion and fun. With high disposable incomes and mortgages paid off, more women with careers, good salaries and pension plans are choosing to ditch their marriage and strike out on their own.

Is it so unusual that relationships can become stale? When children have grown up and left home, the focus is on each other and the so-called silver separators may find they no longer have anything in common with their partner.

Septuagenarians Alan and Celia struck a chord with their Last Tango in Halifax to suggest that romance is not just for the young, but the young at heart, so it’s about putting passion back into lives not falling into passive retirement. Retirement is often the trigger and the argument “staying together for the children’s sake” no longer justifies continuing a stale and soulless relationship. Goals change and striking out again is not always about a new marriage, love and sex – although it might be.

Getting realistic legal and financial advice before deciding to embark upon a new adventure is critical.  You will need to check current values of all assets first. Will there be penalties for early encashment of policies? If pensions do not provide enough income for each spouse if split, will there be enough time and money to make up the shortfall? What happens to the debt and mortgages that may remain? Will you have to start a new healthcare policy and at what cost? What is the effect on life cover?

Capital Gains Tax exemptions on transfers between married couples depend on the tax year in which the couple separate, and not on divorce. However, inter spouse transfers for Inheritance Tax purposes continue until divorce, even if the couple are separated. The shorter time for post-divorce financial recovery can have a significant impact on future stability, so estate planning is important.

There is no need to forsake the adventure – to go for substance over image – even if the children of the relationship and regardless of their own lifestyle choices are opposed to the idea. Your future health and happiness may demand change. Just get some sound legal and financial advice first.

Mogers Drewett

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