Many people would probably assume than when most couples reach middle or old age, their marriage looks set to last. However recent figures show that there has been a significant rise in the number of ‘silver separations’ with the parting of couples in their sixties and even seventies bucking the general downward trend in divorce.
Geraldine Bedell, editor of the website Gransnet said: “People feel that if they don’t make a break for it, they’re never going to do it,” and the figures seem to be proving her right. Three years ago, 11,500 people in England and Wales aged over 60 were granted a divorce whilst in 2010, the most recent year for which it is possible to find figures, the number rose to almost 14,600.
Although divorce amongst the over 60s still only accounts for five per cent of the total divorce cases, the number continues to rise. Obviously there will be many reasons why older people are opting for divorce but for many the reason will simply be because they can. Whilst many younger couples struggle to buy houses and pay their mortgages, for older couples often live in homes valuable enough for them to separate and start again.
“This is going to become more common – it’s inevitable,” says Ros Altmann, director-general of the over-fifties lifestyle company Saga. “Many men and women who hit their sixties still have parents alive and realise that it’s not all over. They have lots of life ahead of them, and think, ‘What do I want?’”