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Most common reasons for divorce

30 December 2015

There are increasingly common reasons for the UK's over-50s to get divorced.

Ripping up a heart shape to symbolise divorce
When filing for divorce, you must prove that the marriage has broken down

The result of a divorce case, like any other case brought before the courts, depends on proof, and there are increasingly common reasons for divorce among the over-50s.

Find out the five grounds for divorce


Over the past ten years polling has shown that extra-marital affairs are more common among the over-50s than they are among the younger generations, and later-agers are more relaxed about the whole thing. Nonetheless, infidelity can strike hard.

However, if you discover a past unforgivable indiscretion then you must act on it quickly. If you fail to do so within six months of finding out about a partner’s affair – current or past - then it is no longer a basis on which to proceed with divorce.

Money problems

Bad or unfortunate investments, lack of pension provision, later life redundancy or endowment mortgage shortfall can all ruin dreams of a comfortable retirement together and destabilise a relationship for good. ‘When money goes out of the window, love goes out the door’ is as true in later life as it is in younger married life.

However, divorce can make a situation worse, with dividing the property, pension potential and earnings imbalance all taking their toll.

Find out how much a divorce costs


Domestic violence among the over-50s is not the rarity you might imagine. Essex Police says that in the five years up to 2014, reported domestic abuse cases among the over-65s doubled.

In March 2015, Camden Council in North London launched Know It’s Not Too Late (020 7974 2526) to raise awareness of - and tackle - both long-standing and newly sprung acts of violence towards a long-term partner, particularly the over-50s.

The violence need not be physical, it can be emotional - deliberately and persistently lowering your self-esteem, for example. Or not letting you out to meet friends, or incessantly monitoring your movements by phone when you do.

If you are affected by domestic abuse contact Victim Support or Refuge

A seismic difference in belief or opinion

One partner may ‘get religion’ later in life for all manner of reasons. This can leave the other spouse bemused, if not bewildered. Their shared habits can change and both parties can become disillusioned with the other; one for failing to see the merits of their new-found faith, the other critical of their partner’s beliefs.

The empty nest

For some couples, ‘staying together for the children’s sake’ is the sole bond keeping the relationship together. Stepping back, they see that the children were the only common ground of interest and concern. Just as the children have moved on, so must they.

Removal of stigma over divorce

For the parents and grandparents of today’s over-50s, divorce was deemed to be shameful, if not downright impossible to get. Not so today. The law has, happily, made it easier for divorce to take place rather than force people to live unhappily within a bad marriage The number of divorced people in the UK has increased threefold since 1991, according to the ONS, to around the 1.3 million mark.


It could be insecurity in the workplace and the possibility of redundancy, with the resultant financial consequences that is badly affecting one, or both of you. Long-term health problems, both physical and mental, can place huge strain on a relationship. As can the care of an ageing parent or in-law.

Needs not being met

From a perceived (or real) lack of emotional understanding to incompatibility in the bedroom, if these matters aren’t being discussed or addressed then resentment can build up between one or both spouses. Failure to communicate with one another can lead to breakdown of the relationship.

The Boomer effect

If today’s over-60s see themselves as the new over-40s, those with secure income and capital – and longevity - grasp the chance to ‘live again’ – both men and women. There is a marked increase in what is described as ‘high net worth’ divorces.


People wonder what they saw in each other in the first place – and wonder, therefore, why they ever got married. Life is too short to continue in the relationship.

Considering a divorce? Make sure you understand the implications of divorce

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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