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Research Reveals Impact of Divorce on the Over 50s

The latest statistics on divorce from the Office for National Statistics revealed that despite an overall drop in the number of divorces, the numbers divorcing in the over-50 age group have actually risen over the past decade.

Nationwide Mortgages conducted research into the experiences of post-50 divorcees to gain a better understanding of why this increase is happening and what impact it is having on the couples involved.

The research revealed that 52% of the couples surveyed had been married for at least 20 years. The reasons they gave for the divorce included:

  • A new love interest (34%)
  • The couple felt they had grown apart (22%)
  • It was a decision made by their partner (15%)

With regards to assets accumulated during the marriage, respondents said that:

  • 42% split the house
  • 26% split their savings
  • 21% split furniture14% split pensions
  • 10% split the sale of their car
  • 6% split family heirlooms
  • 3% split ownership of pets

The research also looked at family finances, and found that the average monthly income of those surveyed, including state pension, was just £514.51. However, a fifth (21%) earn or receive more than £1000 each month, while 11% get £1,500 plus.

When questioned about the financial impact of the divorce:

  • 58% reported the split had left them worse off
  • 28% said it left them struggling financially (31% of women versus 23% of men)
  • 15% were left financially better off (18% of men, compared to 13% of women) 

Researchers also questioned divorcees about the impact their divorce had had on family relationships:

  • 44% said splitting made no difference and they saw children/grandchildren as much as before,
  • 22% saw less of their offspring post-divorce (36% of men, compared to 12% of women),
  • 16% saw their children/grandchildren more after divorce,
  • 51% don’t keep in touch with their ex’s family and 28% don’t keep in touch with joint friends.

However, the research also found that it’s not all bad news following a divorce. While 38% said their divorce was not amicable, 55% said they were happier as a result. The research also suggested that men are more likely to meet someone else once they are divorced, while women are more likely to travel, get a job and enrol on a course.

“Divorce is clearly a major step that should never be undertaken lightly, and this research highlights the impacts on those who have gone through the process in later life, including some concerning figures on the level of advice sought and the financial impacts on one or both parties,” commented Andrew Baddeley-Chappell, Nationwide’s Head of Savings for Mortgages & Savings.

“Keeping on top of finances and seeking appropriate advice before, during and after divorce can help to minimise some of the stress of the process,” he added. “However, for some, there may yet be a silver lining, as our research suggests that parting in later life can bring increased happiness, new interests and maybe even another chance at love.”

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