A recent article on Radio 2 highlighted that although the divorce rate in the UK is falling for the first time in years, separation is on the rise among the 50 plus age group, with this phenomenon birthing the new term "silver separators". The reasons postulated as causing this trend are many and varied. Life expectancy has increased for both men and women. People in an unhappy relationship may wish to enjoy their remaining years free of an unhappy marriage. Women are more financially independent, meaning that the creation of two households is more feasible than it may have been a decade ago. Separation has become more common and we know more about how to better insulate children from the effects of parental separation.
Whatever the reasons behind this trend, the dedicated family team at Harper Macleod have amassed considerable experience in advising clients within this age group. If you are thinking about separating, or if you have separated, there are some pieces of information we can share with you which we hope will help ease the transition in to a new phase of your life.
Our tips for older couples seeking separation
- Many clients tell us that their decision to separate has not come as a surprise to their spouse, friends and family. It can be daunting to take steps to end a long standing relationship, but talking openly to your spouse, family and friends can sometimes make the process of separation less stressful.
- Consider seeking support from a counsellor or family therapist. Life changes can be stressful and emotionally draining. Many counsellors have specific experience in supporting clients going through the process of separation and divorce. A good solicitor will have a network of contacts and other resources for you to consider.
- Knowledge is power - even if you are in the early stages of thinking about ending your relationship, an initial consultation with a specialist family law solicitor can prove invaluable in terms of gathering background information about where you stand legally.
- Think about what you would like your future to look like. For example, would you like to stay in the family home? Or would you prefer to downsize? Considering what you would like to happen can help tp shape the decisions you make in the legal process.
- Bear in mind that separation does not necessarily have to involve an adversarial process. Your solicitor should be able to advise you upon the range of processes available when it comes to resolving the issues which need to be addressed, including conventional negotiation, collaborative practice, mediation, arbitration, and court proceedings.
- Do as much as you can to gather information about your financial position. It is not uncommon to unearth documents relating to long forgotten policies, or to recall occupational pension interests from years ago. The more groundwork you do in advance of consulting a solicitor, the more options you and your solicitor will be able to generate when it comes to considering possible ways forward.
- Prepare a budget. It can be helpful to know how much money you will need going forward, and to know how much may be available to support a second household.
- Remember that there are many more options around pensions than there used to be. Specialist family law solicitors are well versed in pension sharing, which can be a useful option in some circumstances, particularly where there is insufficient capital to meet a settlement, or if one spouse has very little penson provision. It is also now possible to release capital from a non public sector pension fund, in certain circumstances.
- Don't overlook the value of obtaining advice from a financial advisor, particularly if your solicitor has flagged up the possibility of pension sharing or release of capital from a pension fund. Solicitors are not qualified to advise on financial planning matters, but a specialist family law solicitor will be alert to situations where expert inout will add value to your case, and should be able to liaise with your financial advisor to make sure that solutions are tailored to your particular needs. As with counsellors, some financial advisors have particular expertise in working with separating clients.
- Take advice form a experienced, knowledgeable family law solicitor. By instructing a specialist family team you will access wider knowledge and experience than you would by instructing a non specialist solicitor.
For a confidential discussion with a specialist family law solicitor call the Harper Macleod family team on 0141 227 9545.