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Alsters Kelley Silver Separators: What Happens When the Over 55’s Divorce?

Alsters Kelley Silver Separators: What Happens When the Over 55’s Divorce?

Over the last few years, we’ve noticed that an increasing proportion of our divorcing clients are aged 55 or over. For this particular age group, there are some very specific considerations which the divorcing client and his or her legal adviser need to have in mind.  

As you head towards retirement, divorce can have a significant impact on your expected standard of living, and it’s important that your solicitor understands the financial and emotional impact your divorce can have, so they can support you properly and negotiate a settlement which meets your needs.  

Why are there now more divorces among the 55 plus age group? 

There are a number of reasons why divorce rates may be higher for the so-called baby boomer generation. Today’s millennials are more likely to co-habit, but for previous generations this was of course far less socially acceptable.  

Now, as more of us are living longer and doing so in better health, staying in an unhappy marriage for what could be another thirty years isn’t an option. The stigma around divorce has reduced, and generally we are more financially stable. So, now more than ever, couples in the 55+ age group re-evaluate their lives and decide to end their marriage. 

Pensions as a key consideration in divorce 

After many years of marriage, bringing up children and building careers, there are inevitably complexities to divorce. One of the biggest issues, especially for the over 55’s, is, of course, pensions. 

Today, many couples find that their pension is not sufficient to support them both in retirement, even when living together. Divorcing, and splitting the pot, amplifies that as an issue. In addition, one spouse, often the husband, has a much larger pension pot in his own name than the other. In some cases, particularly if the woman stayed home to bring up any children, she may have no pension provision in her name at all.  

At Alsters Kelley our family law team are experienced in dealing with the financial issues arising on divorce and specifically, pension provision. We look carefully at the nature of the private pensions involved and consider issues such as whether they should be shared or offset against a capital asset. We look at whether your pensions are known to be of schemes that can have issues around under-valuation. We will also review your contributions to state pensions, and whether there is any additional state pension available for sharing.  

Our team will discuss the options with you, including whether it would be wise to involve other professionals – for example, a pensions actuary or independent financial adviser. This is well worth considering when a case involves pension assets of £100,000 or more. 

Emotional and life changing impact of divorce 

Even when both parties are in agreement, a divorce can be emotionally exhausting. After years of living together and bringing up a family, this is the age you’ve been working towards; a time when you had hoped to be enjoying a carefree retirement. A divorce always has a significant impact, one which is potentially even greater for the over 55’s. It’s important to recognise this. 

It’s realistic to expect that each party is likely to be in a different financial position post-divorce. Two households and two sets of bills will need to be serviced, where once there was only one household and one set of bills. And while this would be difficult for a younger couple, once you’re over 55 it is likely to be harder to make up any shortfall. 

One or both partners may have to work longer than planned. Sometimes it is necessary for a partner to head out to find work for the first time, or after a long career break. Finding work when you’re over 55 may well mean taking on a role at a lower income than is ideal.  

It’s important that we fully appraise your earning potential and mortgage capacity to factor into a settlement.   

In many households it’s common for one partner to be responsible for the household bills and financial decisions. After separating, the other party will need to be able to take on this role in their own right, and / or instruct professionals to help. This can all be overwhelming, particularly during the trauma of divorce. 

And, although they might be grown up, any children will still be emotionally affected by divorcing parents. There is potentially the added complication of grandchildren, too.  

Silver separators, blended families, and inheritance issues 

A blended family can add further complexity to a divorce. It may well be that a couple divorcing in their 50’s could both be on their second marriage, with a family from the previous relationship to consider. This means the pension pot may have already been divided once and could be again. Legal advice will need to take into consideration all of the children of the family – and will be of particular importance if any of those children in the second marriage are still dependants.  

Further, it’s reasonable to assume that a divorcing couple in their mid to late 50’s may have already inherited assets from their parents or may do in the future. Advice around how an inheritance should be treated in any settlement is likely to be of great importance. 

Working towards a solution  

The ideal outcome is to work towards a fair solution which addresses all of the above issues. If you are considering divorce, it’s vital that you choose a legal advisor who clearly understands the challenges, and an understanding and empathy for the different issues you will face compared to a couple divorcing in their 30’s. 

Divorce is likely to result in significant changes for everyone involved, and life afterwards is likely to look different from a financial perspective. While it’s a difficult and emotional time, it’s far better to approach it with your eyes wide open to the issues to achieve a fair settlement all round.  

If you would like to talk to one of our team about divorce, all of whom have expertise in this area, we offer a free initial consultation. Our offices cover Leamington, Coventry, Nuneaton, and Southam, and we would be happy to help. Contact us on 01926 356000 or by email at to arrange an appointment.  






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Alsters Kelley Solicitors Ltd acquire
Bonell & Co Solicitors in Stratford-upon-Avon

We are pleased to announce that on Friday 22nd January Alsters Kelley Solicitors Ltd acquired Stratford-upon-Avon based solicitors, Bonell & Co and they will now be known as Alsters Kelley Solicitors Ltd, incorporating Bonell & Co.

The Bonell & Co office in Chestnut Walk in Stratford-upon-Avon will remain open and their opening hours have been extended, with immediate effect to 9.00am – 5.30pm.

All existing staff, including partners Andrew Bonell & Alma Nicol will remain with the firm and become Alsters Kelley employees.

The acquisition of Bonell & Co provides Alsters Kelley with an excellent platform for growth, allowing us to further expand our presence and extend our range of services across the Coventry and Warwickshire region.

The acquisition marks the start of an exciting new chapter for both firms.