Mid-life divorce: a legal guide to parting in your 50s

04 September 2019

Fifty is the new 30 in more ways than just fashion and leisure as statistics reveal how more couples, reaching their mid-years, are deciding to divorce.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the over-50s divorce rate is growing - a trend that was first noticed in 2016 when it increased for the first time in a decade, rising by 5.8 per cent on the previous year. There is a common thought that, with people living longer and children leaving home, couples grow apart and pursue interests different from those which saw them unite.

But what of the legalities?

Who’s to blame and does blame matter? While you may have heard of proposals to introduce ‘no fault’ divorces, this is not yet law and present regulations require that one party files a divorce petition based on one of the following five legal ‘facts’: adultery, behaviour, desertion, separation for two years with both parties agreeing to divorce, or five years’ separation. When it comes to finances and who gets what, generally who’s to blame is irrelevant to each party’s financial entitlement.

Family home: Divorcing at any age usually involves a separation of a couple’s assets, and that includes the family home. Often with a mid-life separation, the family home may be owned outright, inheritances may have been received, and parties may have savings to consider.

Pensions: Circumstances vary, but in many cases a pension, or pensions, will have accrued and could be a couple’s largest, or second largest asset. The closer a couple gets to retirement and dependent upon their respective ages, age differences and retirement needs, pensions can be one of the most complex issues to be considered.

The Future: Wills must be reviewed and done so thoroughly. With a decree absolute comes the automatic removal of a former partner as an executor and beneficiary. There is also the question of Inheritance Tax planning with spouse exemption no longer an option, and of course Lasting Power of Attorney as a divorced partner will be removed as an attorney.

For more information or advice, please contact James Marsden on 01482 398381.


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