Divorce rates continue to fall but for ‘Silver Splitters’ continuing to rise

Wills and trusts

By Keith Doherty, Family Solicitor at Wellers Law Group.

Although fewer people are getting divorced in England and Wales every year, the average age of those splitting up has hit an all-time high.

There were 101,055 divorces in 2015, a decrease of more than nine per cent from the previous year’s total, according to newly published figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The number of divorces is also 34 per cent lower than the most recent peak which occurred in 2003.

As well as a falling divorce rate, the ONS also revealed that marriages are lasting longer. The median length of a marriage in 2015 was 11.9 years. This is an increase from the two preceding years where the average length was 11.7 years.

However the average age of those seeking a divorce has also risen to 45.9 among men and 43.5 for women. Both of these numbers are the highest average age on record, as they follow a steady upward trend since 1985.

This leads to more complex financial settlements as later-life divorces mean couples are likely to have larger pension pots and potentially trickier financial affairs to reconcile.

Wives still launched divorce proceedings at a much greater rate than husbands. In 2015, 62,565 women sought the end of their marriage compared to just 38,490 men. This continues a decades-long trend, as women have asked for more divorces every year since 1944, a year when there were just 12,312 decrees made in total.

Many experts have commented on why divorce rates are falling some saying it’s because there are fewer marriages as people are living together longer, others that because the traditional notion of marriage (the working husband and stay at home wife) has been replaced with more equal roles and couples share the burdens of both work and a home life, they are more satisfied and therefore less likely to divorce.

At Wellers we say that ultimately there are likely to be a host of reasons why the amount of divorces appear to be decreasing but that when you do consider divorce you should seek legal advice and a good starting point are our guides on divorce and finances on divorce.