Starting over after a divorce is an uphill task as one adjusts to the change in their life especially when it happens at a later stage of life. Through this blog post, we aim to learn about how someone can start over in their life after divorce at the age of 60 years. We will discuss the financial and emotional decisions one needs to make as well as how to plan their living and income arrangements depending on varied circumstances.

How Do You Start Over After Divorce At 60?

Starting over after divorce at 60 has its own unique challenges; from adjusting to change from a long-established lifestyle to the emotional aspect of the end of a relationship, to the organisation and management of one’s finances, there are different areas of one’s life that will need to be adapted to their changed marital status.

It is most advisable for couples divorcing later in life to prioritise their long-term financial stability as they are more likely to rely on pension schemes as a source of income with little to no chance of building up assets in the future. Simultaneously one must remain mindful of their mental health as divorcing at this stage of life is generally considered to be more difficult than leaving a partner at a younger age especially when one has children and a job to keep them busy.

Despite this fact, according to data gathered by the Office for National Statistics in the UK, while the overall rate of divorces has fallen over the years, the percentage of married couples getting a divorce over the age of 60 has doubled. In fact, it is this age bracket that has recently seen a rise in the number of second marriages as well. 

If one finds themselves in such a situation, they would like to make sure that they continue having a steady source of income, affordable housing and are able to meet their living expense. Below are some suggestions to manage one’s assets and savings so that the end of a long-term relationship when one is most likely to be retired or near retirement, does not bear an unmanageable financial burden:

  • If there is a pre or post-nuptial agreement in place, you should refer to it with regards to the division of assets and management of finances in the case of a divorce.
  • You and your partner should list down all the pension schemes that both of you have; either individually or jointly and then calculate an estimated worth of these so that their division can be planned. 
  • Consider your housing options if you are going to leave the family home. Although as a married or civil partnership or under joint ownership or joint tenancy agreement, both parties will continue to have the same property rights after a divorce as they did prior to it; it is quite understandable that one of the parties will choose to leave to the family home. 
  • If you are on a low income, retired or have not been in service for a long period of time, you can claim spousal maintenance as per court order. 
  • Should you find yourself in a financial constraint after a divorce, you may consider looking for part-time or volunteer work. During this time, you can check with your local Job Centre if you qualify for state benefits.
  • In the case of owning assets, savings or investments you should discuss with your partner and also seek legal advice on their division. If you choose not to sell any assets at the time of divorce, it would be best to agree upon a will that can decide the future course of action without any dispute by the surviving former partner. 
  • Consider the tax implications if you share joint investments with your partner, either of you makes a change to your will, establishes a trust, and divides your assets or your family home.

Once you have sorted out your finances and settled yourself into your new housing/living arrangements, you may start to experience the change in your lifestyle as a single person, which can be emotionally difficult for some people. If your divorce did not take place amicably, there may be unresolved emotions for you to deal with and a general feeling of loneliness. If this is the case, you are advised to seek the services of a counsellor or a mental health specialist who can guide you through the emotional adjustment of a divorce. 

To keep yourself busy and maintain your mental and physical health, you may also consider staying active, and getting involved in community-based activities or volunteer work.  

What Happens To A Joint Tenancy If You Divorce After 60?

Your joint tenancy agreement will not come to an end immediately even if one of the joint tenants decides to leave the premises and live somewhere else after a divorce. The departing joint tenant will continue to remain liable to pay rent and will have equal right to occupy the house until the joint tenancy agreement comes to an end with mutual agreement of all concerned parties and is replaced by a sole tenancy agreement of their former partner; should they wish to continue living in the said premises. You can apply under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 to be assigned sole tenancy at the end of a joint tenancy agreement. 

However, in the case of a fixed-term or periodic tenancy, if one joint tenant wishes to end the tenancy contract, it will end for all joint tenants living on the property. This means that even if they do not wish to depart from the premises, they will have to do so as the tenancy agreement will cease to exist at the end of one month’s notice.

In the case of a rolling tenancy, you can have the tenancy agreement transferred to your name if your partner chooses to leave the house and live elsewhere.

However, if couples own a house jointly, they may consider selling the property after a divorce or if one of them can afford to move out, the other partner can remain living in the house, especially in the case of dependent children.

If you were still making mortgage payments, you may need to discuss with your former partner and arrive at a jointly beneficial and affordable decision regarding your family home.

What Happens To Benefits Claim If You Divorce At 60?

If you and your former partner were jointly claiming benefits as a couple, it is advisable for you to inform Job Centre and HMRC of the change in your relationship status as you may no longer qualify for the same amount and will have to file an application on the basis of your changed status. Alternatively, you may now be able to claim certain other state benefits due to your single status. These include:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Working Tax Credit

If both of you were claiming Universal Credit as a couple, both of you will now have to apply on an individual basis. 

If you will be living alone after your divorce, you can now claim the 25% discount on your council tax bill due to your single occupancy status.

Conclusion:

Research suggests that an increasing number of people aged 60 years and above are now choosing to divorce their partners despite decades of living together as a married couple. While this discussion covers the financial consequences of divorce and some guidelines on how to start over, the options available to each individual will vary depending on their circumstances. Despite that, one must first organise their income, expenses and division of joint assets and investments so that their retired life can be managed well.

FAQs: How Do You Start Over After Divorce At 60?

How do I rebuild my life after divorce at 60?

In order to rebuild your life after divorce at 60, you must be more practical than emotional. First, you must organise your finances and housing arrangements, then discuss the details of how your joint assets and investments will be divided. If you are not working, you can get a court order for your former partner to provide you with spousal maintenance.

Is 60 too old to get divorced?

While getting a divorce after 60 has its own financial consequences, however, it is quite understandable that one would not arrive at such a difficult decision with ease. One should not worry about the age factor if you must get a divorce especially if you are unsafe in your marriage.

What is a wife entitled to in a divorce settlement in the UK?

A wife is entitled to an equal share in a divorce settlement in the UK. She can also continue receiving financial support for herself (until she finds another partner) as well as child maintenance.

Does a husband have to support his wife financially?

While there is no law that goes in favour of or against this statement; however it is expected that a husband and wife will contribute equally through their incomes and one will support the other financially.

How long does it take to recover from a divorce financially?

As per a report by Reuters, it generally takes 5 years for someone to recover financially from the consequences of a divorce. However, it may take more time for individuals whose mental health has been affected by the impact of divorce and they may continue to need support and counselling.

References:

5 Top tips for people divorcing late in life | Winston Solicitors

Everything You Need to Know About Divorcing Over 60 – UK Care Guide

Divorce After 60

Financial settlement advice from family lawyers | Winston Solicitors UK

Divorce in your 60s: how to cope emotionally and financially

Benefits and help with council tax when you separate – Citizens Advice

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