nfl jersey sales ‘silver splitter’ divorces up by three quarters in generation
For centuries couples getting married have promised to be faithful death us do part
But according to the Office for National Statistics, dramatic changes in life expectancy have prompted many couples to reconsider whether they really want to grow old together.
The ONS singled out the fact that people are living longer as the most likely cause for the surge in people heading for the divorce courts as they reach retirement age.
More relaxed attitudes to divorce among the boomer generation in comparison with their parents and greater financial independence among women were also cited as possible explanations.
But, significantly, the figures show that, in stark contrast to other age groups, men over 60 are as likely to file for divorce as women.
Divorce lawyers said it could be a combination of men experiencing a midlife crisis and unhappily married men waiting until they felt they had fulfilled their responsibilities to their wife and family before starting a new life.
But in some cases, they said, it could be the result of a fox phenomenon with men increasingly living longer and still retaining a wandering eye.
In some cases the desire by one partner to travel the world on a late life year also proves to be the trigger for a divorce, they added.
Overall the there were 15,300 people of either gender over the age of 60 getting divorced in 2011, the most recent year for which official figures are available. By contrast in 1991, there were just 8,700.
It came at a time when the overall divorce rate fell markedly from a peak in the early 1990s.
Interactive chart: Male divorce rate (per 1000 of married pop)
While the overall divorce rate has fallen in the last 20 years, the rate among over 60s has risen
Among men the divorce rate fell from 13.6 per 1,000 in 1991 to 10.8 in 2001.
But among men over 60 the reverse happened with the rate rising from 1.6 per 1,
000 to 2.3 per thousand.
It is the first time that the ONS has produced a specific study on the so called splitter phenomenon.
While in 1991,a typical 60 year old man in England could expect to live another 21 years that figure has risen to 26 years. The pattern for women is similar.
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, the ONS explained.
The figures underline how momentous a decision getting divorced is for older people. While the average divorcing couple has been married for just 11 and a half years, over 60s who do so have been together for around 30 years on average.
And while overall only a third of divorces granted were initially triggered by applications from the husband, among over 60s they are as likely to be granted to men as women.
Andrew Newbury, head of the family department at Pannone Solicitors, said: may come as a surprise to find that older men are responsible for breaking up a marriage.
“However, while it used to be thought that men would have a limited life expectancy beyond retirement, they now live longer.
He added: the past you had midlife crises in fortysomething men what we are tending to see now is sixtysomething men running off with fortysomething women, it could be a late midlife crisis.
He said that the stereotypical image of the fox was undoubtedly a factor in the greater numbers filing for divorce after turning 60.
But he added that some unhappily married men chose to their duty and put off separation while their children are growing up.
Interactive chart: Duration of marriage before divorce
Divorce most commonly comes between five and nine years of marriage, ONS figures show
people have retired from work there is also a feeling that you don have those responsibilities any more it is not just a responsibility to work it can be a responsibility to family and a new found sense of freedom, he suggested.
But he added that for people of both genders retirement can trigger a wider reappraisal of their lives.
think there is also a growing appreciation of the idea of having a 20 or 30 year retirement ahead of you and finding you have nothing in common with your partner, having fallen out of love, he said.