Divorce in later life – financial and emotional considerations

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Facing divorce in later life never comes as an easy decision, with rising rates of separation amongst us in our later life – how is best to approach it? 

The topic of divorce is not a particularly fun one to broach, and yet it is a topic that touches a large majority of families across the UK. Over two fifths of all UK marriages sadly end at divorce, with recent statistics pointing to the average length of a marriage before divorce being just shy of 12 years. 

While most couples broach separation in their mid-40s, something of a ‘grey divorce’ revolution has been slowly taking shape on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. For numerous reasons, a slow-growing number of older couples are finding it right to end their union. The phenomenon has been linked to everything from longer lifespans to progressive cultural shifts away from patriarchy, but what matters is that people are charting courses to live their life on their terms – which unfortunately means addressing the elephant in the room.

First steps

As someone considering divorce in later life, or otherwise facing the prospect, it can be difficult to know exactly how to proceed. Marriage is holistic, in that it encompasses multitudes as a thing unto itself. This means there is much to unpick in the process of divorcing, which can often be overwhelming to bear at first glance.

Great journeys are only ever begun with a single step – but when it comes to divorce, the quality of that step can make a great deal of difference. Where divorce seems inevitable, you shouldn’t aim to forge on alone; consultation with a family lawyer is a vital initial step to ensuring your best interests are served at all times. Involving legal help early can also be a great move for minimising the risk of letting emotions make compromises on your behalf.


The fundamental concern in divorce is that you come away as ‘whole’ as you can. This may not be possible financially or emotionally, but the legal process is there to help you retrieve what is yours from that shared pool of a life lived together. Separating assets can be a painful process, especially where shared ownership of a home is concerned, but it is vital to start early and do it right. Drawing up an inventory of personal possessions can make this division much easier, but meetings and compromises are inevitable. 


One of the upsides of ‘grey divorce’ is that any children involved are likely adults – removing custodial concerns from the process altogether. This is both a financial and emotional godsend, where divorce can sometimes be stickiest around family. That said, a rising trend of adult children living with parents in this harsh economic climate can muddy the waters, and bears considering.

Mental health

Regardless how warranted or even freeing your eventual divorce may be, it will still weigh a heavy burden on your mind. Anxiety and depression are commonly weathered during divorce, making it all the more important that you give yourself time and space to breathe – and that you surround yourself with family and friends to fight your corner. 

Read more: Girls just wanna have fun. Why you should consider a short-term fling

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