Marriage is not as strong an institution as it was in years gone by and judging by figures released by the Office for National Statistics, even married members of the older generation are starting to question whether they wish to see out their lives together. With people living much longer it seems that some are keen for a change once they hit retirement and therefore decide to file for divorce.
The combined effect of an ageing population, increasingly relaxed attitudes towards divorce amongst older members of society and the fact that women are generally in stronger financial positions today is thought to be behind the divorce boom.
However, unlike the findings for other age groups, it is just as common for men to bring divorce proceedings as it is for women.
Why is this? Many divorce lawyers believe that men wait until they are sure that they have adequately provided for their wife and children before starting afresh. Another, perhaps linked explanation is that some men have a late mid-life crisis. Others believe that is something to do with older men becoming attractive to younger women, meaning that men in their 60s are often starting new relationships with women who are 2 decades younger than them.
In 2011, there were nearly 15,500 men and women older than 60 who underwent divorce proceedings marking an increase of three quarters since 1991 when the figure stood at just 8,700. This is despite the fact that he divorce rate across all age groups is considerably lower than it was at its peak in the 1990s. In the 10 years following 1991, the male divorce rate dropped by 3% overall but amongst men aged 60 plus the rate did the opposite and started to creep up.
The ONS has never done a study like this before and concluded that it can be no coincidence that the life expectancy for men over 60 has increased by more than 5 years in the last 20 years – a trend mirrored amongst women.
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