Divorce among the elderly.
Not getting a divorce used to be about the children. I was amazed to read the comments of the MP Andrew Selous published in The Telegraph suggesting that older couples should be given support to stay together rather than separating so as avoid increased care fees. He explains that many elderly couples care for each other and that once they separate and live alone they require social and health care which they did not need previously as it was being provided by their spouse.
There are many reasons to support marriage and encourage people to work through their marital difficulties and ultimately avoid divorce. Focusing on the elderly is not in my view realistic. There has been a significant increase in the rate of separation and divorce in the over 60s. There are several reasons for this; attitudes towards divorce and separation have changed and people no longer feel obliged to stay married. There is less financial dependency amongst women and once children leave home there is often a shift in responsibilities and the difficulties in a relationship are highlighted. I am not convinced that assistance from health professionals is going to make much difference to the separation rates amongst the over 60s or significantly reduce the costs of care. Many of those separating will undoubtedly not qualify for assistance with care fees in any event.
In my experience divorce amongst older people is not as a result of relatively recent difficulties within the marriage but problems that have been bubbling away for years. Oftenthe marriage is past the point of counselling or marriage guidance and little can be done to save it.
I can see that there is a public interest in avoiding family breakdown. The social and economic costs relating to separation and divorcea are significant. However, the focus should perhaps be on the younger generations. The costs of young single mothers and absent fathers are I imagine a much bigger concern and one where greater changes can be made. The new child support rules may make some difference but I think it unlikely as enforcement of child support assessments is always going to be the real issue.
Although Andrew Selous is suggesting that older people should be given support to stay together, I am wondering how the cost of this support is going to be met? One public budget may be saved if successful but another budget increased as a result..
If you are thinking of or in the process of separating, or thinking about divorce whatever your age, please give me a call on 01245 809 556 or email me on firstname.lastname@example.org for some sensible expert advice. The Law House at www.thelawhouse.com.