Employment hikes divorce rate for women: ONS data

The research showed that while the overall number of divorces has been falling since the 1990s, the number of divorces among women aged over 60 had rocketed by 81 per cent between 1991 and 2011. Divorce rates for women in this age group have risen from 1.2 for every 1000 married women to 1.6 in the past two decades.

Divorces among men aged over 60 have rose sharply by 73 per cent between 1991 and 2011 and divorce rates have increased from 1.6 for every 1000 married men to 2.3. Nearly 9500 married men aged over 60 and above got divorced in 2011.

Dissolutions of civil partnership within the same age group numbered 92 between 2007 and 2011, representing less than 3 per cent of all dissolutions. In comparison, 8 per cent of men above 60 and 5 per cent of women of this age were divorced in 2011.

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The ONS said that the reasons for the increase in divorce for the over-60s were increasing life expectancy and a loss of stigma with divorce. Marriages were now more likely to end in divorce than the death of a husband or wife than in 1991.

The ONS report also revealed that the increase in divorces among women in particular was due to their greater participation in the labour market. The employment rate of women aged 16 to 64 rose from 53 per cent in 1971 to 66 per cent in 2012.

The report stated: “Women have become more financially independent and are more likely to have built up their own pensions. Therefore, in general, women are now more able to support themselves outside of marriage than in the past.”

Adviser view

Jane Mudge, chartered financial planner for Oxfordshire-based Isis Financial Planners, said: “It is important that women divorcing should bear in mind that all assets of the marriage should be taken into account, including both pensions. Everything has to go into the melting pot and they need to decide at the outset what they are trying to achieve.

“It is also important that they take good financial advice from their solicitor or financial adviser.”