As a result of greater knowledge about health and what is good for you, not to mention our obsession with fitness gadgets we are all living longer. Some would argue too long!! Great you might say but what does living longer really mean for us? One argument is that although we may live longer we may experience more chronic health problems in older age. Another aspect is that we experience life events such as becoming grandparents and even great grand parents. What is interesting to family lawyers is that the increase in divorce in the over 60’s is on the which seems to indicate that no matter how old we are we still have an expectation of happiness in later life.
For many who anticipate living well beyond their 60s there has been a shift in mind set. If we are going to live well into our 80’s and beyond why should we willing to settle for anything that doesn’t provide some degree of fulfilment especially where relationships are concerned? There has never been a time in history where happiness is seen as a right rather than a happy outcome of hard work. So why do people initiate divorce proceedings in their late 50’s and 60’s? There are many reasons but no real surprises. It would appear that the top trigger is still the point at which children leave home such as going to university or taking a year out to travel. Retirement is a close second. The prospect of spending 24/7 in the company of one other person sometimes brings with it the realisation that that they should probably never have married in the first place. A common complaint when a spouse retires is that the retiring spouse tries to take over roles that were previously carried out by the spouse that stayed at home. The end result is resentment and conflict which can lead to a breakdown in the marriage. Despite the marriage breakdown there is surprisingly a desire to start again in later-life, to make the most of the what time we have left.
This quest for happiness does not simply extend to getting divorced but also to starting new relationships. Another interesting observation is that those who divorce in their 50’s and 60’s can be less conventional than when they originally started out, some now favouring living together over marriage! However, remarrying or living together in your 60’s is not all plain sailing and bring with its own problems. How do you bring two separate families together where the children of one side are suspicious of the new partner’s intentions or simply don’t get on with the other sides children? If the new relationship follows the death of a much loved parent it can be difficult to accept that mum or dad has moved on. The biggest problem or concern centres around inheritance, perceived fairness and who should get what of everything else. How do you sound like a concerned child without sounding like a greedy child? A growing area of conflict is how do you support a parent who is ill especially when spouse from a second marriage is in control? Unless the issues are addressed early the stresses on a second marriage or relationship can cause it to end unnecessarily.
Unfortunately, divorce proceedings are not straightforward in many of these cases because of the extensive range of jointly owned assets acquired over 20, 30, 40 or more years of wedlock. Debt could also be a factor and there’s the issue of dividing pensions.
As an expert on the complexities of divorce, re-marriage and living together at all ages and stages of life, Venisha Shah at The Law House offers both sound advice and a sympathetic ear to individuals involved in the financially and emotionally challenging separation process.
To talk to Venisha Shah, our expert family lawyer and about your proposed divorce, or to instruct her representation services, please contact us on 020 8899 6620