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Multiple marriages and divorce in later life

Stowe Family Law solicitor Amy Foweather was interviewed on BBC Tees this morning to discuss the story of “Britain’s most married man”. The 68 year-old man in question, Ron Sheppard, made national headlines when he got engaged to a woman who will become his ninth wife next year. Despite the eight previous failed marriages, Mr Sheppard insists this will be his last.

Presenter John Foster asked Amy how unusual divorce and remarriage was among older people. She explained that it is actually quite common. People are living longer than they used to and there isn’t such a social taboo around divorce any more. Sometimes it happens once a couple’s children have left home. At that point, some parents realise that they have drifted apart as a couple. While some will choose to remarry once they find a new partner, others will be a little more wary and will simply choose to cohabit.

Amy was asked if divorce had simply become too easy these days. She did not think so but admitted that some people see it as an “easy way out” when their encounter marital problems. However, those considering divorce should not make the decision lightly as the process can be lengthy and costly. Not only that, but going through an acrimonious divorce can cause great animosity between former couples.

As for the case of Mr Sheppard, Amy said that people should not rush to judge him. He could simply be a lifelong romantic. She also noted that the man professes to be a Catholic and does not believe in sex before marriage. That could have been a factor in the number of marriages he has had throughout his life, Amy suggested.

When the subject was raised, Amy said she had no issue with the 42 year age difference between Mr Sheppard and his future ninth bride. They are both legally consenting adults so as long as they are happy, people are not in a position to make snap judgments, she said.

Prior to her interview, Amy had discussed the story with some of her colleagues at Stowe Family Law. Despite the wealth of experience the solicitors at the firm have, none of them had ever encountered a client who had been married more than three times. It appears as though most people give up on marriage after three failed attempts, she explained.

Listen to the entire interview here, starting at 30:06.

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