It is becoming increasingly common for parties to separate and divorce in later life. This is also known as the “grey divorce”. There are many reasons for this; people living longer, empty nest syndrome or retirement triggering one party’s wish to undergo a life transformation.
Whatever the reason for the separation, what should the parties be considering at this stage?
Older couples will often have been together for a lengthy period of time and built up substantial assets. These assets will need to be divided fairly between them to provide for them both. The longer the marriage, the more likely it is that the assets will be divided equally between the couple.
It is important to establish what is in the matrimonial pot for division. If you have a financial advisor, it is worth talking to them to see what assets you actually have and whether there are any possible penalties for withdrawals from those investments.
Both parties will need to consider their future housing needs. This often means that the family home will need to be sold to enable the parties to each purchase a property. One party may be in a care home and these costs need to be considered too, whether they are being met by the Local Authority or will need to be met from the matrimonial assets.
Pensions are also an extremely important factor. It is still often the case that one party has a much larger pension than the other. A pension expert will usually be required to look at how to divide pensions in order to provide an income to each party. An equal division of pensions will not necessarily lead to an equal income when considering health and life expectancy. This is because women are assumed to live longer than men and an equal division will usually generate a smaller annual income to the wife than to the husband.
The parties will also need to obtain a state pension calculation to establish the level of your likely state pension. Often, with a further small lump sum, both parties can receive a full state pension by topping up the contributions. This is something that can be addressed as part of the settlement.
Whilst the process and the law remain the same, different factors will be more important in a divorce in later life than in a divorce where the couple are in their 30’s, for example, and for this reason it is important to seek specialist advice from your solicitor as well as from pension experts and financial advisers.
If you would like to discuss divorce or separation, please contact a member of our Family Team on:
Exeter 01392 285000 Cullompton 01884 33818 Newton Abbot 01626 330127