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What’s behind post-60 divorce?

The number of Britons who end their marriages after they turn 60 is increasing as the general divorce rate falls.

Over the last 20 years, there has been an increase of almost three quarters in men over the age of 60 who divorce. In 2011, there were almost 9,500 such men. There has been a similar rise in the number of divorces among women in that age group. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that older people now make up 45 per cent of all divorces in the country.

Barbara Bloomfield, a counsellor for relationship support charity Relate, said that age gaps could be a factor in the high number of divorces among older people. For example, if there is a ten year age gap between spouses, that “is nothing, it’s flattering, when you’re 20 and 30”, she said. However, when they get to 70 and 80, the younger partner may start to think “the rest of [their] life is going to be spent looking after him or her”.

BBC Radio 4 is scheduled to air a report on the trend tonight. They spoke to several people who divorced late in life. One of whom, Peter, said he “almost straight away regretted” proposing to the woman who would become his first wife. He married in 1967 and did not leave until 36 years later, when he was 64 years old. Peter remarried in 2011 at the age of 72.

According to the ONS, second marriages are more likely to succeed than first marriages. If at least one of the parties is remarrying, there is only a 31 per cent chance it will end in divorce. When it is the first marriage for both, the likelihood of divorce is 45 per cent.

The BBC PM programme on ‘silver splitters’ will air on Radio 4 at 17:00 tonight.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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