You’re done with the hard graft of your 30s and 40s.
The kids have left home, the mortgage is more or less paid and, hopefully, you’re financially secure.
You finally have some time to re-evaluate life and focus on your own needs, and for an increasing number of people this has meant joining the ranks of the so-called ‘silver splitters’ – the mid-life divorcees.
In fact, while the Office for National Statistics has recorded that 2012-2013 (the most recent figures on public record) saw divorce rates drop to their lowest in 40 years, splits among the over-50s are steadily on the rise.
So what has inspired this middle-aged quirk?
Some commentators have pointed to the runaway success of ‘50 Shades of Grey’, empowering women to take control of lacklustre love lives and seek new adventures. Others have simply suggested that couples who married young may have run their course, drifting apart as life goes on, starting a new chapter once the responsibilities of parenthood take a backseat.
In fact, according to a recent survey by Resolution, the professional body of family lawyers in England and Wales, 82% of 14-22 year-olds said they would rather their parents divorced if they were unhappy than stay together just for the sake of the children.
Teenagers and older offspring are likely to understand the ways of the world and adapt to new situations if they can see that it’s in the best interests for you, so it’s advisable to be as open and honest with them as possible, while respecting their relationship with your partner. Don’t try to make them take sides, as this will cause unfair stress on their part.
Society accepts divorce much more so now than in past generations, and if you do decide to end your marriage, it’s important to make your financial and emotional well-being a priority so that you can fully enjoy your newfound independence.
Take Control of your Finances
If you’re looking at the prospect of becoming a ‘Sindy’ (Single Income, Now Divorced), what are the key financial hurdles you face?
- Dividing your assets, liabilities and property can be complicated, particularly if you can’t come to an amicable agreement with your spouse, or if there are children/dependents involved. If required, get professional help from a solicitor that specialises in divorce.
- Once you’ve settled the legal aspects, reviewing what you have left after a split is key. Do your investments and pension plans still fit with your goals for the future? Have your financial goals changed? Consider seeking some expert financial advice if you’re not sure.
- You should also check in on your income vs. expenditure (your budget) to make sure you don’t fall into debt or overspend. Running a household on a single income can be tricky, especially if you’re used to two.
Live your Life to the Full, enjoy your Independence
Being a divorcee is no longer the social taboo that it once was and being newly divorced can be the perfect time to meet new people, gain friends, and seek out new experiences.
There’s always a wealth of opportunities to network, socialise and date, whatever your age or former marital status.
- Take it slowly if you need to. Find a friend or family member who’s been through something similar, as they can help you get to grips with the dating scene.
- Join a club, society or local group to meet new people; it can be a fun way to spend your free time even if you don’t meet the love of your life.
- Make use of technology. As well as the good old-fashioned classifieds, you could try dating apps or websites, which can provide a great way to meet people outside of your normal social group. Dating in this way has lost its stigma and has become an increasingly popular way to find romance.
Take Care of Yourself
Divorce is undeniably one of the most stressful experiences life can throw up, even for the party that instigates proceedings, so it’s important to talk to friends, family and medical professionals if you feel at all anxious. Trouble sleeping and/or dramatic weight loss/gain are the outwardly obvious signs of stress, and depression can follow, so it’s important to open up about your feelings to close friends or trained professionals who can help you get back on track.
While things may sometimes feel tough as you readjust, it’s important to remember that many people overcome the emotional strains to successfully rebuild their lives, possibly finding a new love along the way.
For couples that can maintain effective communication during the separation, mediation can be a very productive alternative to Court battles. Mediators are totally impartial, do not take sides and only offer sound legal advice in order to facilitate ‘good’ divorces with minimal animosity.
There’s no denying that divorce can sometimes be traumatic and difficult, but getting out of an unhappy marriage can also be an empowering experience. A growing number of over-50s are untying the knot and taking bold steps to start new chapters, but it goes without saying that such decisions should not be taken lightly.