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Divorce rate rising for over-60s

Published on 07 August 2013 10:30 AM

The divorce rate for over-60s is on the rise, as more so-called 'silver splitters' are separating after around three decades of marriage, figures show.


While the overall number of divorces has been falling since the mid-1990s, the number of older people who are filing for divorce has increased, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

However, even with this rise, relatively few older men are getting divorced. There were 2.3 divorces for every 1,000 married men in 2011 - a rise from 1.6 in 1991.

The ONS report says: 'In 1991, men aged 60 in England and Wales were expected to live a further 21 years. This increased to 26 years for men aged 60 in 2010. Similar rises have been observed for women.

'This means that even with a small chance of divorce during each year of marriage, marriages are now more likely to end in divorce and less likely to end in the death of one spouse than they were in 1991.'

Gender gap

In 2011, the average length of marriage for men over 60 who got divorced was 27.4 years. Women over 60 who divorced during the same year had been married for an average of 31.9 years.

The number of men over 60 who were granted divorces hit 9,500 in 2011 - a 73% rise from 1991 - while 5,800 women over 60 divorced, up from 3,200.

The gender gap could be explained by the fact that, on average, husbands tend to be older than their wives, while the overall rise is partly due to an increase in the number of over-60s who are living in England and Wales, the ONS said.

Other factors could include a loss of stigma around divorce and higher employment rates among women, who have become more financially independent since the 1970s.

The number of 'silver splitters' is at its second highest level since the Divorce Reform Act came into effect in 1972.

In 1993 there were a record number of divorces in England and Wales, with 165,000 couples splitting up. That figure fell to 118,000 in 2011 - the latest year for which divorce figures are available.

Copyright Press Association 2013

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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