Elderly divorce on the rise in United Kingdom

Elderly divorce on the rise in United Kingdom

Cropped Advert-1 pmgTHE rise of the ‘silver separators’ – divorcees aged over 60 – means many will spend their old age lonely, poor and in ill health, according to new research.

 While divorce rates among the total population is on the decline it is increasing among the elderly.

A report by the think tank, International Longevity Centre (ILC-UK) reveals the number of divorcees over 60 has increased by 85 per cent between 1990 and 2012.

By 2037 10 per cent of all divorcees will be aged 60 or more contributing to increased isolation and a greater need for formal care to cope with poverty and ill health Using data on current marriage and divorce rates by age, the total number of people over the age of 60 experiencing divorce will increase from 15,700 in 2012, to over 22,000 by 2037, a rise of 41%.

Individuals don’t expect to divorce so when it happens, many find themselves in very difficult financial circumstances

Ben Franklin, ILC-UK

Since 1982, men over 60’s divorce rate has risen by 0.6 per 1,000 marriages while it has fallen by over 1 per 1,000 marriages across the total male married population. ILC-UK believes the increase could be the result of people marrying later in life who are then more exposed to the risk of divorce at older ages because their marriage is still relatively fresh.

Other factors include the greater financial independence of working women, changes in social attitudes towards divorce and with people living longer, more marriages are likely to end in divorce rather than the death of a spouse.

Ben Franklin, of ILC-UK, said: “A growing number of older people experiencing divorce presents significant challenges at an individual and societal level. “Increasing divorce rates and numbers might result in greater isolation, illness and a need for more formal care.

“Individuals don’t expect to divorce so when it happens, many find themselves in very difficult financial circumstances.

“At any age it is vital that individuals seek out relationship support. The rising number of divorces amongst the over 60s is something that policymakers, charities and services providers should factor-in when considering the potential vulnerabilities facing older people.”

Richard Willets, Director of Longevity, Partnership, which provides annuities and financial packages for the elderly, added: “While divorce at any age is likely to be a painful experience, the older you are the more likely it is to have a negative impact on your health, wealth and general well-being.

“As separation is generally not something that people plan for, they are likely to need the support of their family and friends as well as potentially need more state assistance. Divorce in later life is therefore something that needs to be more fully understood and factored into Government planning going forward.”

The report was debated at an event in the House of Lords yesterday and was published today as part of the ILC-UK Population Patterns Seminar Series, with the support of Partnership.

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Growing Number of Adults Have Remarried

Remarriage StatisticsIn 1960 85% of American adults had been wed at least once; last year just 70% could say the same. Young people are proving particularly reluctant to try: 28% of men aged between 25 and 34 in 2010—and 23% of women—will not yet have tied the knot by 2030, according to estimates from the Pew Research Center Article on Remarriage.

Earlier research has documented the strong correlation between marriage and financial well-being,4 and this pattern holds for remarried adults as well as for adults in their first marriage. On key economic measures, remarried adults fare better than their currently divorced counterparts and about as well as those in their first marriage. Some 7% of currently remarried adults are living in poverty, compared with 19% of divorced adults. The median annual personal income of remarried adults is about $30,000; this is roughly $5,000 higher than that of divorced adults. Homeownership, which often reflects wealth, is also much higher for the remarried than the divorced—79% versus 58%. Remarried adults also fare much better than those who are widowed in terms of financial well-being.

There are several reasons for this change in marriage trends. More women are working outside the home, and for fairer pay, so a husband is no longer a meal ticket. And attitudes to cohabitation have shifted: almost a quarter of young adults now live with a partner. Given the exorbitant costs of both weddings and divorces in America, living “in sin” seems increasingly sensible, particularly for the many youngsters who are now drowning in college debt.

But while a larger proportion of Americans are shying away from saying “I do”, those that have done it before remain keen to do it again. Last year 40% of new marriages included at least one partner who had made vows before, according to a new Pew study. Divorced or widowed adults are about as likely to remarry today—57% have done so—as they were in the 1960s. The prospect is certainly more appealing than it ever used to be, as rising divorce rates have yielded a larger pool of possibilities. So  In total, 42m adults in America have been married more than once, up from 14m in 1960. “It’s fascinating that among those people eligible to remarry, the share that do has been stable for such a long time,” reckons Gretchen Livingston, one author of the new research.

Finances and marriage

A breakdown of the data reveals that men are more likely to remarry than women, and the age difference between partners widens the second time around. It also turns out that trends in longevity have helped nudge more older adults to call it quits. Divorce rates for older Americans have doubled since 1990; in 2011 more than 28% of those who reported divorcing in the previous 12 months belonged to this age group. But older singletons do not necessarily stay in the lonely hearts club for long. Half of divorced seniors (those over 65) had remarried in 2013—up from 34% in 1960.

Specialist dating websites make finding new people easier for those too creaky to hit the dance floor. Maturesinglesonly.com says more than 7m people aged 40 and older have sought their help since 2002, while match.com reckons about 30% of its American users are aged over 50.

Other Key Findings

Fully 8% of newly married adults have been married three times or more. This share is 10% among whites, compared with 6% of blacks, 4% of Hispanics and just 2% of Asian Americans. And 9% of newlyweds with just a high school diploma have been married at least three times. Among those who lack a high school diploma the share is 8%, and among newlyweds with a bachelor’s degree or more, 5% have been married three times or more.
On average, the age gap between spouses in new marriages in which at least one of the spouses has been married before is wider than the age gap between those in a first marriage. Some 16% of newly remarried couples include a husband who is at least 10 years older than his wife. Among first-time newlywed couples, this share is 4%. Overall, 39% of first-time newlywed couples are within a year of each other’s ages, compared with 21% of remarried newlywed couples.
Remarriage is more common among whites than among non-whites or Hispanics. Fully six-in-ten previously married whites have remarried, compared with 51% of Hispanics, 48% of blacks and 46% of Asian Americans.
Previously married adults who were born in the U.S. are more likely than the foreign born to remarry (58% vs. 51%, respectively). Across time this gap has narrowed, as remarriage has risen dramatically among the foreign born, up from 40% in 1960.

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Elder care and divorce

A confluence of circumstances can conspire against marriage among older couples: longevity, soaring elder-care costs and a lack of long-term care (LTC) insurance. Divorce, even if painful, may hurt less than living in near poverty until Medicaid finally kicks in to cover an ill spouse according to USA TODAY.

Medicare insurance only covers up to 100 days of nursing care. If you or your spouse need nursing or LTC, you either pay out of pocket until your assets fall below a low threshold or tap your LTC insurance.

LTC is not medical care, but help with personal tasks of everyday life. More than 11 million Americans need LTC now and total costs can easily hit six figures: Average need for care lasts about three years (2.2 years for men and 3.7 years for women, according the National Clearinghouse for Long Term Care Information.

If you don’t have LTC insurance, you pay out of pocket until you spend most of your assets and Medicaid (an aid-based program for low-income people) steps in as a last resort.

From my professional experience, counseling someone to consider divorce to stave off financial ruin is difficult, to say the least. A healthy spouse can feel wrong and immoral taking such advice.

My clients Debbie and Glenn (not their real names) are 72 and both on their second marriage. They married 11 years ago and purchased a home together but, importantly, each kept investment assets separate.

Three years ago, Debbie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Since then, Glenn hired personal caregivers to help Debbie every day and part of each night. The expenses depleted Debbie’s assets two years ago; Glenn now draws on his individual retirement savings to cover her care, which costs more than $3,000 a month.

The alternative: Glenn and Debbie remain married but he keeps spending his nest egg. That means he risks winding up with little money for his own medical and living needs in the future (of particular concern, since Glenn can easily live another 25 or more years). A divorce that’s primarily just on paper won’t interfere with Glenn’s overseeing and coordinating Debbie’s care but will protect his assets and open the door for Medicaid.

Glenn understands the seemingly cold logic of divorcing Debbie. Yet he can’t tolerate the feeling that he’s betraying her; he can’t decide what to do. Meanwhile, the clock ticks as he whittles down his retirement money.

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