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Lawyer says communication is key as silver seperations rise

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Older couples should ‘talk before they walk’ a leading Worcestershire lawyer has warned following the release of latest statistics which show a surge in over 60-divorce rates.

Family lawyer Katherine Tippetts, associate at regional law firm MFG Solicitors, has spoken following the recent release of figures by the Office for National Statistics which show that in 2009 more than 11,500 over-60s were granted a divorce – a four per cent rise in only two years and the only age group where divorce rates are on the rise.

Ms Tippetts, an expert in matrimonial finance, believes the figures are not surprising as she says many pensioners discover they have little in common with each other once their children leave home. But she urged those looking to separate to communicate and think hard about emotional and financial decisions they may regret.

She said: “Divorce rates amongst the over-60 population here in the UK are on the rise and although I disagree with some commentators who have described the figures as a ‘major social revolution’, I strongly agree that communication must be pushed to the forefront.

“When children fly the nest older couples find that they have time for new things and often see a whole new lease of life. That is when cracks in relationships start to appear and cannot be smoothed over as people strive for a more independent life. For some this new life is the best life but I’ve seen many bewildered couples here in the Midlands who put themselves in a stressful position by not thinking logically about finances and how they might split almost a lifetime of wealth.

“Couples automatically think they should sell their home or surrender investments early – a move many regret as they soon find they have not been acting logically as they see how difficult it is to rebuild capital wealth post-retirement.

“First and foremost people must get over their emotional differences and, especially in today’s economic climate, take expert legal advice to explore financial settlements such as pension sharing and an even but fair distribution of income. They need help to think outside the box and arrive at the best solution with least pain and upset as possible.

“Couples must talk before they walk out on what can often be a 40-year relationship. If it cannot be saved then some planning, professional input and talking can certainly save further pain – emotionally and financially.”

Ms Tippetts added that her firm’s specialist family team is dealing with a rising number of over-60 divorce cases across Worcestershire and urged couples who are considering a separation to seek legal advice.

The divorce figures revealed that in 2007 11,040 people over 60 got divorced. This figure rose to 11,507 by 2009.

The statistics are a big contrast to other age groups where overall the divorce rate is down by 11 per cent with 227,898 people separating in 2009 as opposed to 256,262 in 2007.